Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman





MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time to commence today's business. We will begin with the introduction of visitors.



I wish to introduce to the House a gentleman from Prince Edward Island, Mr. Ivan MacArthur, who is seated next to Rodney Caley. Mr. MacArthur is the Editor Designate of Hansard for Prince Edward Island. We would like to welcome you here this afternoon. (Applause)



Are there any other introductions of visitors? All right, we will begin the daily routine, then.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs.



RESOLUTION NO. 789



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



3971

Whereas December 6th is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and



Whereas on this day we remember December 6, 1989 and the 14 women who were massacred in Montreal on that date, we remember and reflect on the many other women in Nova Scotia, in Canada and around the world who continue to be victims of violence; and



Whereas we commit ourselves collectively and individually to take action against violence against women;



Therefore be it resolved that this House now observe a minute of silence in recognition of all Canadian women who are victims of violence and that we resolve collectively and individually to act against such violence so that it may be prevented in the future.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



It calls for a minute of silence. Let us stand.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



RESOLUTION NO. 790



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas Dalhousie University's Faculty of Medicine has been given accreditation for the next seven years; and



Whereas this is the maximum accreditation awarded a medical school by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education; and



Whereas this positions Dalhousie among the top medical schools in North America;



Therefore be it resolved that this House recognizes this great achievement made by Dalhousie University's Faculty of Medicine, its staff and students.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 56 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 43A of the Acts of 1978. The Dartmouth City Charter. (Hon. James Smith)



Bill No. 57 - Entitled an Act to Continue the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. (Hon. Ronald Stewart)



Bill No. 58 - Entitled an Act to Permit Physicians to Incorporate for the Purpose of Carrying on the Practice of Medicine. (Hon. Ronald Stewart)



Bill No. 59 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Practice of Medicine. (Hon. Ronald Stewart)



Bill No. 60 - Entitled An Act to Provide for Equal Tax Treatment for all Professions. (Mr. John Holm)



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.



MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: And would you please ask the NDP to listen?



RESOLUTION NO. 791



MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the Old Town of Lunenburg possesses properties elegantly distinctive and wonderfully preserved; and



Whereas the heritage of the Old Town of Lunenburg is vast, rich and steeped in tradition; and



Whereas the people of Lunenburg, in consultation with the Department of Municipal Affairs, have worked hard in the promotion of the Old Town of Lunenburg, resulting today in having it named a United Nations World Heritage Site;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the people of the Old Town of Lunenburg for achieving this outstanding designation indicative of the wealth of cultural tradition that is so evident in this community.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried. (Applause)



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 792



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas on December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine shattered the lives and dreams of 14 women when he brutally murdered the female engineering students at Montreal's L'École Polytechnique; and



Whereas these same 14 women over the last six years have become martyrs for the cause of eradicating violence against women and symbols that this plague is still prevalent in our society; and



Whereas the anniversary date and purple ribbon campaign are, and will hopefully continue to be, reminders that there is still much to do if we are to eliminate the abusive treatment by which so many women in our own communities live and die;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the achievements to date and the miles left to travel before violence against women is no longer tolerated and remember that this is not a problem for women, it is a problem for us all.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



Now we have three on their feet, I will go in this direction. The honourable member for Halifax Citadel first.



RESOLUTION NO. 793



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas 78 years ago today the face and future of Halifax and Dartmouth were radically and instantly changed as the Norwegian cargo ship the Imo and the French munitions ship the Mont Blanc collided in Halifax Harbour; and



Whereas the explosion that resulted killed 1,630 men, women and children, injured countless more and levelled large areas of the city; and



Whereas the tragedy that befell the people of Halifax and Dartmouth on that dreary December day will forever be remembered both for the tremendous devastation it caused and for the incredible courage, compassion and generosity of spirit it demonstrated will prevail in the face of great turmoil and anguish;



Therefore be it resolved that this House remember with deep gratitude the thousands of people from all over the world who came to the aid of a city and people in a time of great despair and great need and that we take a moment of silence at this time to remember the men, women and children whose lives were tragically lost on the morning of December 6, 1917.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.



Is your motion on the same subject?



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Well possibly we could hear the two of them simultaneously.



The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



RESOLUTION NO. 794



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas 78 years ago today, at 9:06 a.m., the French munitions ship Mont Blanc exploded in Halifax Harbour at The Narrows, thus causing what has become known as the Halifax Explosion, in which 1,600 people were killed, more than 2,000 people injured and 6,000 persons were left homeless; and



Whereas on that day of the explosion the Halifax Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at the North Street Train Terminal, resulting in the death of 10 firemen; and



Whereas this morning, through the efforts of Captain Donald Snyder, a memorial service was held to perpetuate the memory of these firemen;



[2:15 p.m.]



Therefore be it resolved that this House observe a moment of silence to remember all who lost their lives in this most terrible catastrophe that occurred in the City of Halifax.



Mr. Speaker, I would also ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: We will deal with these two motions concurrently. Would all those in favour of the motions please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motions are carried.



We will now observe a moment's silence in honour of the victims of the Halifax Explosion.



[One minute of silence was observed.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 795



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas this is the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence Against Women, an occasion to recognize the tragic consequences of women's unequal status and power in our society; and



Whereas on this 6th Anniversary of the Montreal massacre, Liberal Governments in Nova Scotia and Ottawa are undermining pay equity, excluding more women from income security and refusing to honour election commitments to affirmative action; and



Whereas those who remember must also act;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to reconsider its acquiesence to the latest federal unemployment insurance cutbacks and its legislation that would strip away from thousands of women workers their pay equity agreements and other hard-won employment rights.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Shelburne.



RESOLUTION NO. 796



MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns recently announced the 1995 Inn of the Year Award; and



Whereas the award was given for the first time based on comments received from the guests who stayed at the association's 30 member inns across the province; and



Whereas, this year, the Inn of the Year was awarded to the Cooper's Inn and Restaurant on Dock Street, Shelburne;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Joan and Allan Redmond, owners and operators of the Cooper's Inn, for their outstanding contributions to this province's hospitality and tourism industry.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Victoria.



RESOLUTION NO. 797



MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the new $5.5 million Victoria County Memorial Hospital in Baddeck, serving 6,000 people from Cape Smokey to Middle River and Iona, including the First Nation Reserves of Waycobah and Wagmatcook will be officially opened by the honourable Minister of Health on Saturday, December 9, 1995; and



Whereas the new hospital provides a prime example of successful health reform in action as the hospital provides a 12-bed unit, outreach services, and out-patient services, while providing a focal point for caregiving agencies like the Hospice Society of Victoria County; and



Whereas this new facility would not have been possible without community support including $1.2 million from a small population of 6,000 people;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the successful labours of everyone who has provided for the successful completion of the new Victoria County Memorial Hospital in Baddeck.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver and passage without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried. (Applause)



The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.



RESOLUTION NO. 798



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas on January 10th, Aaron Bouchard, a seven year old Dartmouth-Cole Harbour area Cub Scout saved the life of young Justin Blair by grasping an overhanging branch to save him when he fell through the ice into a local pond; and



Whereas the brave action of this young Cub Scout has been duly recognized by the National Council of Scouts Canada in the conferring of their highest honour, the Bronze Cross Medal, to be presented next November by His Excellency, the Honourable Romeo LeBlanc, the Chief Scout of Canada; and



Whereas in a ceremony tonight at George Bissett School, Aaron will receive the Bronze Cross Emblem, which will become a part of his scout uniform as long as he is active in the scouting movement;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly offer congratulations to Aaron Bouchard for his brave, quick action in saving his young friend's life, and recognize this award is an indication of the fine efforts of parents and community organizations such as the scouting movement to instill the principles of caring, selflessness and responsibility in the young people of Nova Scotia.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 799



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the minister responsible for gambling has complained at great length that concerns about illegal lottery ticket resellers were not brought directly to him and his staff so they could ensure their own rules were being followed; and



Whereas now that minister complains that concerns about his Halifax casino's free breakfast offer are being brought directly to him and his staff, so they will ensure that their rules are being followed; and



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the gambling minister for straightforwardly dealing with all gambling infractions excepting only those which are brought to his attention and those that are brought to the attention of law enforcement officers.



MR. SPEAKER: I hesitate to allow that motion. We do not have any minister for gambling in the ranks of the Executive Council.



MR. HOLM: Gaming minister.



MR. SPEAKER: For gaming, all right. I thought I heard gambling.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



RESOLUTION NO. 800



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the Town of Lunenburg has been officially designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee; and



Whereas the World Heritage Committee accepted this designation as, "an outstanding example of planned European colonial settlement in North America both in terms of its concept and its remarkable level of conservation"; and



Whereas Lunenburg is now the second world heritage town designated in Canada;



Therefore be it resolved that this House send congratulations to Mayor Mawhinney and the people of Lunenburg, for it is to their credit that the Old Town is now a World Heritage Site.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 801



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas Nova Scotia seniors have watched angrily as this government reduces its financial commitment to Pharmacare without effectively controlling drug costs; and



Whereas seniors' protests have been ignored as tens of thousands were cut of from seniors financial aid programs and the remaining programs were closed to new applicants; and



Whereas seniors were further insulted yesterday, when the Finance Minister lumped them in with his generous new tax breaks for well-paid professionals;



Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister and other Liberals trying to find shelter from the consequences of the government's double standard should not look to seniors for any comfort or political protection.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 802



MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:



Whereas the absolute critical component of Home Care Nova Scotia is the more than 1,000 employees who provide the necessary housework, personal care or medication attention necessary to keep a person recovering in their own home; and



Whereas the monthly work hours reflect their employees support of Home Care Nova Scotia jumping from 2,200 hours in the months before the program to over 7,000 work hours in October; and



Whereas Home Care Nova Scotia's admissions between January and the end of October 1995 has swelled to over 11,000 compared to the usual 7,000 people per year in the outdated restricted system of bygone days;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to the many staff and participants who are benefitting from the mandate of this government to provide better health care for all Nova Scotians.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens. (Interruptions)



Order, please, so we can hear the honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: May I make a brief introduction?



MR. SPEAKER: By all means.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure this afternoon to introduce to you and to all members of the Chamber, two gentlemen seated in the west gallery who undoubtedly are here because of their joint interest in health matters, and particularly the QE II Health Sciences Centre. I would ask all members to welcome Brother Blanchard and Brother Moody. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.





TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to table for the House, a translation of the Community Colleges Act that applies to Collège de l'Acadie. The translation is in French and will be available to anybody of our Acadian francophone community who wishes to read it. It is not something that would have a legal grounding but it is helpful for all of the people and we have tried to be true to the bill, itself.



MR. SPEAKER: The translation is tabled.



Now if there are no other items to come up under the daily routine, I would like to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. and the winner is the honourable member for Yarmouth. The honourable member for Yarmouth has submitted a resolution for debate reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government continue its successful efforts to enhance Nova Scotia.



So we will hear debate on that topic at 6:00 p.m.



Now the Oral Question Period today will run for 90 minutes, from 2:28 p.m. until 3:58 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MUN. AFFS.: C.B. REG. MUN. - LOAN AGREEMENT



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Can the minister tell the House if the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is on emergency funding?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: No, Mr. Speaker.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, will the minister explain how the conditional loan agreement that the province signed with the regional municipality differs in its arrangements from those that were previously offered to those on emergency funding?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, the loan that has been provided to the municipalities very clearly has some certain things that have to be done by the municipalities, such as looking at expenditure reductions as well as reviewing their financial services, how services are provided. It has, very clearly, a specific number of the reductions that have to be provided. So there are some very specific concerns that were addressed in the loan and in actual fact, in the instance that the municipality does not comply with agreement, the loan, in fact, becomes due and payable back - which is quite different than emergency funding.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister will recall that one of the clauses in that agreement relieves the municipality from complying with the requirements of the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual. When I asked the minister about this on November 29th, she said, this is not the first time we have done this when units are on emergency funding. Now she states that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is not on emergency funding. My question is, can the minister indicate if this is the first time that the province has waived this requirement, when a municipality is not on emergency funding?



[2:30 p.m.]



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, on occasion the Department of Municipal Affairs, as we do on a regular basis, sits down with municipalities that are having difficulty dealing with having a balanced budget. There have been occasions in this particular instance with this one aspect, that there has been some leniency or an opportunity for the municipalities to have a very aggressive tax collection which we think is the most appropriate.



The honourable member may not realize that by booking this reserve, it can sometimes require a municipality to have to borrow extra money and incur extra costs. If we can provide some flexibility and some opportunity for the municipality to be more aggressive on tax collection and avoid those expenses, we think that it is a fiscally prudent way to deal with them.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MUN. AFFS. - HFX. METRO: SOLID WASTE - CONTRACT APPROVAL



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to go to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Of course, the minister will be very much aware that a new Mayor and Council were elected for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Saturday past. The minister will also know that the residents who live in this area and that council are going to be faced with and bound by a contract for handling metro's solid waste and the development of the system, a contract that could lock them into an expenditure in the vicinity of $1 billion and that will have impacts upon that municipality, that council and taxpayers for generations to come. My question to the minister is quite simply this, as we have a new mayor and council elected, will the minister direct her coordinator to announce that before that contract is approved or signed, it will have had to have received the approval of the newly-elected council to represent the area?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I have already spoken with the coordinator in regard to this issue. I think it is very important to understand, if you look a little bit at the history on this, we had the Metropolitan Authority for some 10 years that had been trying to deal with this issue. It was last year that I sat down with the four mayors at that time and we were able to hammer out an agreement to which they all agreed, that the county would be responsible to deal with this issue on behalf of all four municipalities. In actual fact, the county has dealt with it in a way that has had public input, public consultation and has a committee that has been set up by the public.



There has been a resolution to the issue. The resolution is still under the authority of the Halifax County Regional Municipality which is under the jurisdiction of Mayor Randy Ball at this point in time. That council is in effect until April 1st and that council has the authority to deal with it. I think it has been very clear as we have said on a number of occasions in this House that any expenditures that are looking to be signed which will impact on the future government, will have to have a review by the Coordinator, Mr. Hayward. That has been in place ever since we appointed Mr. Hayward.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister, of course, will know that the bill that she introduced into this House gave the minister the absolute powers to make any decisions that she wished regarding that. The minister will also know that the coordinator is not elected but has been given all powers of council but that the coordinator's position will disappear as of April 1st, but that the potential expenditure of upwards of $1 billion will be remaining and that newly-elected council is going to be responsible for that.



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.



MR. HOLM: I have spoken as well with the newly-elected mayor for this council and he also believes that it is essential that that council that is responsible should also have the responsibility for making decisions. My question is, if the minister won't tell the coordinator to do it, if she has that power herself, will the minister announce here and now that before those contracts that could commit the residential taxpayers and commercial business taxes in this area to a $1 billion expenditure over a generation, will she instruct that the newly-elected council will have to approve it before that goes forward?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, this honourable member is on it again. One minute I have too much power and, in the other minute, I am not exercising enough power. What we have tried to do in this government is to set in place a process, a process that everybody knows how it works, how it sits and how it is followed through. That is extremely important in order to deal with very controversial issues such as this.



Mr. Speaker, I know that the coordinator has met with Mayor-elect Fitzgerald for the new Halifax Regional Municipality; I know that they have had a meeting and I know that they talked about this issue. My understanding is that they have come to an agreement that Mr. Hayward will review it and Mr. Hayward will put forward to the new regional municipality an opportunity to review it as well.



So, Mr. Speaker, all of these things that he is throwing up in the air, these great terrible things that are going to happen, we have a process in place. The process will be followed and there will be an opportunity for those individuals who need to, to deal with the issue. Thank you.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, this minister will, of course, also know that the landfill in Sackville was imposed upon that community by a government of her persuasion which knew, when it imposed it, that the provincial government would not be responsible for paying for the costs of that. The minister in her legislation gave herself the power to make those decisions and she can play whatever shell game she wants . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Come to the question, please!



MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is quite simply this, why is the minister not prepared to give the properly duly elected new municipal council that is going to be responsible for carrying out the decisions regarding that, why is she not prepared to give them also the responsibility to be able to overview and to agree to that contract before it goes forward?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I don't think this member wants the garbage issue to even be dealt with.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: No. No.



MS. JOLLY: I would say he doesn't want it to be dealt with. He wants it to stay up in limbo, stay up there, nobody makes a decision and these horrible hypothetics that he wants to bring forward are terrible.



Mr. Speaker, what this government did - and I think it is very important as I answered in the first question - the Metropolitan Authority was not able to deal with this issue. They tried to deal with it for years and couldn't. We all know that. We know how the Authority worked. So myself and the Premier dealt with the four mayors, we got them together and we came together with an agreement that had a process in place, somebody to be responsible. Something this honourable member would have no idea about. Somebody to actually be responsible; somebody in charge. That was agreed to by the four municipalities. That was an agreement by those four municipalities. The county has come forward and have dealt with the process, again, agreed by the four municipalities.



Mr. Speaker, these people don't want this issue to be dealt with because it is much more advantageous for them to keep it up in the air. They don't want it to be dealt with. So the county was appointed and the county has done their job.



AN HON. MEMBER: The county wasn't . . .



MS. JOLLY: Yes, the county was appointed. The county was appointed by the four municipalities to handle this. See, they don't even know that; they haven't even done their homework on the question.



Mr. Speaker, the county was appointed. They have dealt with it. As we have with the amalgamation coming forward, the coordinator is responsible to review and will review all things that will impact on the new regional municipality. That's the process and the process is going to be followed. The coordinator has met with Mayor-elect Fitzgerald. All of these things are in place. Apparently, they don't like these things being settled, because they want to keep them up in the air.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE - YOUTH INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION COMMITMENT



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. I would appreciate it if the Minister of Justice would confirm his commitment made in July of this year that the provincial government still has - what he described then as - its moral obligation to deal in a compassionate and equitable and sensitive manner with the victims of abuse of the Shelburne School for Boys, the Truro School for Girls and the Nova Scotia Residential Centre, and that the government would spend up to $10 million on compensation, education and counselling. Will the minister confirm today that that commitment made in July still stands?





HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Yes, I would be glad to confirm that the commitment that was made in July with regard to helping, assisting and compensating the victims of the School for Boys and several other facilities will be fulfilled in terms of education, training, counselling and financial compensation.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, some four and one-half to five months have passed since the Minister of Justice made his speech about moral obligations and compassion and sensitive treatment of these victims who were abused. My question, by way of supplementary, to the minister is, will this minister tell this House how many of the victims of abuse over the last four and one-half to five months have, in fact, been in receipt of any compensation?



MR. GILLIS: None of them have been compensated but if the member would examine what I said at that time, I didn't say that in the first four or five months it would be done. They are matters that go back 40 years or 50 years, including 15 years in which that honourable member sat as a senior minister in the former government and nothing was done. We are moving and there has already been counselling provided and there will be compensation in a reasonable time.



MR. DONAHOE: The minister makes reference to some of my time as a member of government and I am delighted that he recalls those years. I recall, Mr. Speaker, the years that that minister sat at the Cabinet Table in 1975 and that there was a man who, 20 years later, was convicted of criminal charges for abuse and sexual assault which was perpetrated during the time that this minister was sitting at the Cabinet Table, next to the Minister of Social Services of the day. What was done at that time? So, let's not get into throwing dirt against the wall, let's get into dealing with the commitment made by this minister and the commitment was that there would be guidance, counselling, education and compensation. Four and one-half to five months later there has been none of that.



My final supplementary. Will this Minister of Justice tell this House how many of these victims - and I advise him and through you, Mr. Speaker, all members of the House, that there are potentially as many of 150 of these victims - have to this date, to the minister's knowledge, received any meaningful counselling service? He has already acknowledged they have received no compensation, how many have received counselling service?



MR. GILLIS: As part of the question the honourable member said that the victims had received nothing, including no counselling. It is untrue and he knows it is untrue. I don't know the exact number. It is probably in the 10s, it is probably 40 or 50. It is a number but I can determine that for him. It seems to me, I am sure he is not deliberately misleading the House, but he knows, I already told him in another answer that there has been counselling and we are working very diligently on the alternative dispute resolution process on the one hand and also we are doing a study and investigation to protect those people who are incarcerated there now and we will see that the job is done properly.



MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE - YOUTH INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION COMMITTEE



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I didn't say at any point as I put the question, Mr. Speaker, as I know you heard and Hansard will disclose, I didn't suggest that nobody got any counselling; I asked this minister if he knew how many got it. The clear answer is that he hasn't got the foggiest idea how many of these 150 victims have received counselling. I can't believe the minister isn't totally and completely conversant with the details of this tremendously important matter we are talking about, as many as 150 Nova Scotians, as I have said. They were brutalized and they were sexually assaulted and they were physically abused and they were emotionally battered and they were physically and psychologically traumatized and this minister doesn't know what is going on.



My question to the minister (Interruption) Could you have the Minister of Social Services maintain a little bit of order? I am having a little bit of difficulty putting . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.



MR. DONAHOE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice will know the name Mr. Eric Kristiansen and Mr. Eric Kristiansen has resigned from a committee which he was supposed to work on, to deal out compensation for victims. On November 29, 1995, the Daily News reports, Mr. Kristiansen who is a 51 year old man and a victim of this abuse, said that, ". . . a four-person executive was supposed to work with the victims and the Department of Justice to advise on compensation. But he was the only person who ever served on the committee . . . Of the others, he said, one person is in the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, one is in Springhill prison and the fourth person was never named.". Mr. Kristiansen went on to say that, ". . . he has been unable to get any co-operation from the Department of Justice in his research work.". But yesterday, he said the proposed alternative dispute resolution, which the minister now talks about, is collapsing.



[2:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Could that quotation be tabled?



MR. DONAHOE: Yes, indeed, it will. I have it here and it will be tabled. I ask the minister if he will tell this House what this minister is doing to ensure that the victims are dealt with quickly to ensure that compensation and counselling issues are, in fact, settled in as timely and as short a timeframe as possible?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to get into any argument of what Mr. Kristiansen thinks about his dealings with the Family Services Association or the Department of Justice. But I know, in an attempt to be helpful to Mr. Kristiansen and try to understand his concerns, I believe people as senior as the Deputy Minister of Justice spent considerable time talking to him and that is part of the process. He made his own choice not to continue to work with the Family Services Association. There are 125 to 150 people who have dealt with the Family Services Association. They are proceeding to select a lawyer - that association - to represent those victims who want to be represented by a common lawyer and that is proceeding and we are determined that compensation will be made.



At the same time, the person in charge of the program has been in touch with a group of lawyers that wanted to proceed on their own and there are discussions going on there. There has been an offer made by the person in charge of the program to meet in January with that group and that seems, at least on the initial reaction, acceptable to the group and that they are going to talk about where we might go from there. So I think things are, in fact, moving along. We are making good progress.



MR. DONAHOE: I note, Mr. Speaker, that in his response, and I am going to refer to the same letter to which the minister has just referred and I will table a copy of it here momentarily, however notwithstanding what the minister has said, he still makes no commitment that each victim who expresses a desire to be represented by his or her own counsel will have that right. For the minister to suggest, as still appears to be the case, that a government lawyer of his choosing will represent a number of the victims, is frankly tantamount to the predator appointing a representative for the victims.



I ask this minister as directly and as pointedly as I can, will this minister direct Paula Simon, who is the functionary in his department who wrote the letter to which he just made reference, to advise any and all victims who indicate that they wish to be represented by their own counsel, that they will have the right to be represented by counsel of their own choosing?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the member said that the government plans to appoint a lawyer. That is not so. The lawyer who will represent whatever number of victims want to get together will be selected by the Family Services Association and the victims themselves. The money will come from all the taxpayers. I suppose, in that sense, that may be the government, but in no way, shape or form is that lawyer representing the government. It will be an independent lawyer.



On the other hand, if people don't want that process, they always have the option of going in their own direction. More than that, given the reaction to the letter that was sent to the group of lawyers and the initial reaction from them, it may be that there will be a combination of one lawyer representing quite a number of victims and there might be some of the lawyers together having some discussions with government. That is not ruled out. We want this to work. We want to get something done. Forty or fifty years have gone by and we are determined that we are going to resolve this.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the letter to which the minister referred is a letter from Ms. Paula Simon, Program Manager, Compensation for Survivors of Institutional Abuse. It was dated December 4, 1995 and I have a copy which I will table. In it, Ms. Simon makes mention of the fact that on July 20, 1995, "The Minister . . .," referring to the Minister of Justice, " . . . made a promise to negotiate a framework agreement and a process for compensation with the survivors of abuse. He is still very committed to this problem solving approach, and now, from the representations made, understands the desire of many of the survivors to have their own legal counsel. Therefore, he wants to find a way for their lawyers to participate in the negotiations.". That is more or less consistent with what he is saying here today.



I ask this minister again, will the minister, if he truly wishes the victims to be treated fairly, will he direct Ms. Simon to make it crystal clear and absolutely, clearly known to each victim, that those victims know that he or she can, in fact, be represented by their own counsel? As I mention, Mr. Kristiansen, to whom we made reference a moment ago, has already said publicly that the Department of Justice has no credibility among the victims, whether that is right or wrong, I don't know but it is Mr. Kristiansen's public statement and the general perception amongst the victims is that you can't trust these guys, referring to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Attorney General. Will the minister give this House a commitment today that he will issue that directive to Ms. Simon that every single victim understands that he or she has the right to be represented by his or her own counsel.



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I believe I already said that, that people can go that way. There are several other options, there is the option of working together and some victims don't want to go through the courts or don't want other processes. They want to get together and be represented by a lawyer of their choosing. Yet, there may be another way where a group of lawyers may come together and in some way, represent the victims that way. We are not ruling that out and we truly do, as the member said in the first, we truly want to help the victims and we are working that way and we are trying to be as flexible as possible and I commend Ms. Simon for her efforts. Not only has she written a letter which is relatively easy to do but she has taken the time to personally meet with many of these lawyers who have concerns about the process.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel on a new question.



JUSTICE - YOUTH INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I am a little bit from Missouri, Mr. Speaker, you have heard this minister say just a moment or two ago that it won't be he picking the lawyer and it won't be a government lawyer and all of the rest. I am aware that, as my good friend, Jack MacIsaac, who used to be a member here, often said that you can't believe half of the lies you read in the newspaper but it is interesting to note that this minister is quoted in yesterday's newspaper and he says the following, "Justice Minister Bill Gillis told the Daily News yesterday he's still planning to hire only one lawyer - who will also attend the meeting - to represent the more than 70 victims seeking compensation through the independent Family Services Association.". He is going to hire the one lawyer to represent 70 and I am asking him and attempting to have him indicate here today, that he will make it known to the victims that they have the right to have the counsel of their own choosing.



It appears, as I put my final question to the minister, that this government has been following a model of resolution of a very difficult issue such as this is, on experience gleaned years ago in the Ontario situation. It is noteworthy that this minister and his officials, as I understand it, have studiously avoided reference to employing the, what I would refer to as, the Kingsclear, New Brunswick, model of resolution. Here, the victims are being told that they are to face something like a $60,000 per person cap, Kingsclear was $120,000 per person cap and they made it clear that the individual victims have the right to have their own counsel.



Will the Minister of Justice today, commit to have his officials approach the resolution of these matters on the more equitable and the fairer and the more sensitive Kingsclear model rather than the antiquated Ontario model and approach, particularly, as it relates to the, obviously, unsuccessful alternative dispute resolution process which has been attempted to this point.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: First of all, in reference to the Daily News article, if the member, the former minister, will look at the article, it says truly, or the story says that I told the Daily News that he is planning to hire one lawyer. You notice that that is not in quotes and I am not going to revert to the days here, as the honourable member would remember, when there were frequently points of privilege that said well, something is in the paper and I didn't say it.



Well, in fact, I didn't say that and we are not going to hire the lawyer, the lawyer is going to be hired by the Family Services Association. As I said earlier, the money will be provided by the taxpayers but it is not a government lawyer, just as even though the money for Legal Aid is provided by the taxpayers, the Department of Justice or the government certainly doesn't direct Legal Aid what to do.





Finally, on the matter of Kingsclear, I just want to say this, we have looked carefully at several models. The Grandview model in Ontario seemed to be a good model in that it was able to direct the maximum amount of money to the victims, approximately 95 per cent, whereas in the New Brunswick model, the Kingsclear model that the member talks about, 80 per cent was for the victims. We are for the maximum money to the victims and we are going to pursue that until we find it is not the right way to go.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, there appears, as I assess these issues, to be a great perception that this minister and this government is, frankly, by virtue of its interminable delay and its running the victims around the mulberry bush time and time again, and that is what the victims say is happening. It is not I saying that, it is the victims saying that. So therefore, there is a great perception that this minister and this government is re-victimizing these victims of abuse over and over again. As you know, Mr. Speaker, some of these victims have suffered for 20 and 25 years.



I ask this minister, as directly as I can again, how much longer is it going to take before this minister is in a position to say in this House or, if we happen not to be sitting, stand somewhere else and say that compensation has been made available to the victims who were so brutally abused over all these years at these provincial institutions? How long is it going to take for compensation to reach those victims?



MR. GILLIS: I don't want to harken back to the 40 or 50 years of which the member was around and could have done something about it for 15. I just want to say that since the responsibility came to the Department of Justice on August 1st of last year, that is one year and four or five months, or something like that, we have acted. We appointed a retired Chief Justice to look into the matter, to get to the bottom and find out what was going on. We are moving on it, we are acting on it, we are doing something. We are getting counselling, we are aiming to get money to the victims. As I indicated, by January we hope to have a meeting with the Family Services, equipped with their own lawyer that they select, plus this group of up to 15 lawyers who are representing victims.



I think if the member will be a little bit patient, then we will get the job done. I don't think it is fair to say because we have not instantly done it that we are not moving. It is a very active matter, it is being pursued diligently by my officials. I, personally, have taken a special interest in trying to get the matter resolved. I meet again today. It is an ongoing matter for me and we are going to work on it until it is fixed and repaired as best we can.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, this minister likes to suggest that this is a matter that has had some 40 years of life. Unfortunately, a terrible life it is and a terrible life for those who are the victims. He keeps coming back, as I am sure you have noted, Mr. Speaker, suggesting my 15 years on the Treasury benches. Well if you subtract the 15 from the 40, I would like to ask him where the Liberal Government, who had the other 25 years to do something about this, was during that period of time? It didn't take this minister very long to work out a $120,000 deal with Judge Bremner and a healthy pension and about $120,000 is the Kingsclear limit that I mentioned a few moments ago.



[3:00 p.m.]



I ask this minister by way of final supplementary if he will direct Paula Simon, who will meet, as he has described and I am aware from her letter, who will meet with certain lawyers representing certain of these victims some time in January, I am asking this minister if he will direct her, when she attends that meeting, to make it known to those lawyers that those lawyers who are to represent the individual clients, will have the right to conduct the negotiations to effect a compensation package for their clients? To this point, Mr. Speaker, even those victims who have lawyers are being told that you leave your lawyer at the door and we will have the government appointed lawyer work out a compensation package. I want this minister to give us a commitment, if he is prepared to, that those who do have individual lawyers will have the right to have the compensation package worked out on their behalf by the lawyer of their choice, will he give that commitment?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member keeps harking back to who did what or who didn't do what and talking about Liberal Governments. He, of all people, should remember, both himself and his father served part of the time, but there was only a Liberal Government in Nova Scotia for 10 of the past 39 years. So you should take a look at that and then maybe you can compare and decide how many years the Tories were there and who did what.



That is irrelevant, we want to help the victims and we want to be positive. The meeting about which Ms. Simon wrote will be convened. She has already met with most of these lawyers and we are going to find a way, if they want to integrate into the process, which will include a common group but there may be a way that these groups can also be represented and still not eliminate any individual who wants to use the court system to the benefit of that victim.



But I tell you, this is being followed and at this time I am not going to step in and start telling a person who is spending a lot of time and trying to find a way quickly to get this done reasonably, that you should do this or that. I think it is being handled well and I think if the member is patient, by January when those meetings are held, we will make some real progress.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MUN. AFFS. - ACCOUNTING AND REPORTING MANUAL:

REQUIREMENT - WAIVE



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Earlier the minister had made reference, in terms of her agreement with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, of a policy of aggressive tax collection. The minister would know that as a result of her government's decision to cap the provincial share of municipal general assistance costs at last year's level, a decision which came after many municipal units already fixed their budgets, that many municipalities, as a result of this, are finding themselves in a very serious financial crunch.



Now the question for the minister, is the minister prepared to waive the requirement to strictly comply with the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual? Would she afford those municipalities that are having the financial difficulties as a result of losing the support of the general assistance payment, is she prepared to allow them not to comply with the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual, if they agree, as the Cape Breton municipality did, to embark on a program of aggressive tax collection?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure where this member is coming from. The Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual is a very important document that both we, in the department, and the municipalities follow. It deals with very specific issues on how accounting is done, how finances have to be handled.



Mr. Speaker, the municipal advisors and my department meet with the municipalities, assisting them to put their budgets together, to look at the expenditures, to look at how they can deal with the difficult times that they do have at this point in time.



As I answered a couple of other questions, we have a process, we have some rules and regulations. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the municipalities do an excellent job of complying with those and that those rules and regulations are there for the good of the whole but in certain circumstances and in certain areas where the assessment base may be dwindling or where the ability to raise taxes is not as possible as other areas, we have, on occasion, made some exceptions to very specific aspects and very certain aspects.



The member refers to emergency funding. Mr. Speaker, generally when municipalities are on emergency funding, we require them to increase their taxes by 5 per cent. If you are on emergency funding, you have to increase your taxes by 5 per cent because we want you to get off emergency funding. We mandate that to those groups. Is he suggesting that we mandate to every municipality in the province that they have to increase their taxes by 5 per cent every year?



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would take the opportunity to remind the minister that, as well, a further similarity in this agreement is exactly that, that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is obliged to raise its taxes by $2.7 million to comply with the requirements of this loan. So I thank the minister for providing that additional piece of evidence that this is so similar to emergency funding.



By way of first supplementary, would the minister explain what she means by aggressive tax collection policy? In other words, what will the Cape Breton Regional Municipality do now to collect so-called uncollectable taxes that has not been done in the past and how will this differ from the tax collection policies that are carried out in every municipality in this province?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, each municipality deals with their tax collection in their own way. They know that they have to collect the taxes. Some of them have shorter time periods of allowing people a grace period. Some of them look at the circumstance of the individual. Certain communities, as we have noted here on the floor of the House, some of the fishing communities, it has been a little bit more difficult to collect some of those taxes than in other areas because some areas of the province have been hit a little harder with certain things that are going on.



Mr. Speaker, I want it to be clear. The honourable member is trying to relate this $2 million loan to something other than what it is. This was a plan of action that came forward to the Department of Municipal Affairs from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. This was a plan of action that they felt that they could do, that they could follow, that they could be able to handle to deal with a deficit situation. I think it is very important that we remember that, that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is taking responsibility for a difficult financial situation. They brought forward a plan. Yes, we have assisted in giving them a little bit of leeway on a couple of things. Would he rather us force them to borrow more money, to incur greater expense? Is that what the honourable member is suggesting?



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for the question because that is not what I was suggesting at all. The minister has forgiven the Cape Breton Regional Municipality from complying with the Municipal Manual of Accounting and Reporting and as a result the municipality no longer has to set up a 100 per cent reserve fund to cover the amount of uncollected taxes. In other words, from now until March 1999, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, unlike any other municipality in this province, can engage in deficit financing.



Now, by way of final supplementary, would the minister please explain, under the terms of the arrangement that she has made with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, is it in fact true that the municipality will have to provide no reserve funds to cover the uncollected taxes or will a certain percentage of uncollected taxes in that municipality have to be covered by a reserve funding?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, certainly there will be a percentage that has to be set aside on a reserve. Again, I am not sure where the honourable member is coming from. I am not sure what point he is trying to get at. He talks about the agreement. Certainly, we have made an allowance here for a period of the agreement to deal with the Municipal Accounting and Reporting Manual. But look at Page 2, No. 5., that also says that, "The Municipality agrees to implement its four year program to restore its financial situation . . . results in a net improvement in the financial position of the Municipality in each year of the program totalling . . .", not less than, 1995-96, $560,000.



There are conditions to this agreement; this is not just willy-nilly, carte blanche, the way they used to do it. This is not 15 years of emergency funding to a number of these municipalities up there with no regard to how they are going to deal with it. This is not just make it easy, come in and talk to us, and we will give you money and try to get the solution to go away. We don't run the municipalities this way. We have tried to put together a program, a process. There are requirements for the municipality to follow and they have to deal with a net improvement in their financial position. That is part of the agreement as well.



He would suggest that the municipality doesn't have anything that they have to do in order to get some of these concessions. They have a very tough road to hoe; they have a very tough agreement here that has to be followed. It is one that they put forward themselves and I think they should be congratulated rather than pulled apart and ridiculed by this honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



HEALTH - VGH: STRIKE - CONTINGENCY PLANS



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. The minister will know that a strike vote was taken by employees of the Victoria General Hospital over the end of last week and the weekend, a vote which was overwhelmingly in favour of withdrawing their labour. Based on presentations that have been going on in this House over the last day or so, it certainly appears that nobody believes the government's position that there are no problems and that all employees' concerns have been dealt with. As a result, it appears that support for the strike is growing.



In light of that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister if he could indicate to this House and to all members, what plans has this minister made to deal with the eventuality of a strike at the Victoria General Hospital?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the answer to this very clearly lies with the clinicians and those who are part of the administration of the facilities concerned.



MR. CHISHOLM: I would say, Mr. Speaker, that as long as it is the minister's position to pretend that all employees' concerns have, in fact, been dealt with and that, therefore, there is no need to deal with those concerns through amendments and that they will not even discuss the possibility of addressing those problems through legislative changes, I would suggest that the minister and his colleagues are fanning the flames and pushing these workers out on strike.



MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.



MR. CHISHOLM: I would like to ask this minister, Mr. Speaker, will he ensure that there, in fact, is an agreement with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union to ensure the provision of essential services in the event of a strike?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I won't respond to the honourable member suggesting fanning the flames; I will let the people of Nova Scotia see who is fanning any flames here. Suffice it to say, any changes in the clinical provision of care will be handled, very appropriately and in a proper way, by those who provide services within any institution in this province, including those.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think the public will recognize that it certainly hasn't been this member who has voted to go on strike; it certainly hasn't been this member who has brought legislation into this House that is trashing the rights of health care workers at the VG Hospital.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Community Services (Interruptions)



MR. CHISHOLM: There are no points of order during Question Period. (Interruptions)



AN HON. MEMBER: You have been here long enough to know the rules. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.



MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The preferred practice in any matters with respect to a possibility of withdrawing labour, especially in the health care sector, is for an agreement to be reached between management and labour . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Please ask the question. This is a supplementary.



MR. CHISHOLM: . . . on what are essential services and what needs to be done in order to ensure that those are preserved. Mr. Speaker, it has been done for years in here in Nova Scotia and for years in other jurisdictions across this country.



MR. SPEAKER: Question.



MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, will he be proactive enough to seek such an agreement here, in this case, to reduce the potential for conflict if, in fact, the decision is taken to go on strike and to withdraw labour from the Victoria General?





[3:15 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I do think that this is a matter contained in a bill before this House at the moment and being debated in proper fora throughout our legislative process, including Law Amendments, to which I would look to receive any suggestions which might be brought forward in that forum. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



The honourable member for Hants West.



HEALTH - NURSING HOMES: PHARMACEUTICALS - SUPPLIER



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health will recall that I was speaking to him about 10 days ago with regard to the supply of pharmaceutical products to nursing homes. The minister, I presume, now has an answer, because there is a fear among private pharmacies that the hospital dispensaries are going to provide drugs to nursing homes within the areas serviced by those hospitals. So I was wondering if the minister could respond to that general question. Is it the intent or the policy, or whatever, of the department to supply pharmaceutical products to the nursing homes from hospital dispensaries?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member opposite who has brought specific concerns to my attention and I appreciated the brief conversation we had in this regard. The purchase of pharmaceuticals for nursing homes is indeed a function of those particular institutions, and various methods have been used. Very often the community pharmacies have been involved in the provision of those services, and some nursing homes, in terms of large quantities of medications particularly, would avail themselves of the provincial acute care hospital distribution network worked through the Nova Scotia Hospital and its distribution network. That is individually decided by the nursing facilities and I obtained this information as a result of our discussion with the honourable member opposite.



MR. RUSSELL: Well, I am a little confused as to what the minister really said. My question is simple. Is it then up to the nursing homes to make the decision as to where they will buy their drugs, either from private pharmacies or from hospital dispensaries?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, it could be either arrangement. I would say that it is not purchased from the hospital dispensary but, rather, through the network of distribution to acute care facilities throughout the province. There is central purchasing, which is in place, operated through the Nova Scotia Hospital, but that is the way that most hospitals in this province would obtain their medications.



MR. RUSSELL: Okay, Mr. Speaker, I think I am still lost because I know that, for instance, in my home town, Windsor, we have a couple of pharmacies. One supplies The Elms; one supplies Dykeland Lodge. I am told that those nursing homes are going to be directed to buy their drugs from the Hants Community Hospital. I am appalled if that is so because of the fact that these are small businesses. They can probably supply the drugs, I would think, at a comparable cost, if you added up all the costs of maintenance within the hospital dispensaries. So my question is, is that not so, because I have been advised by both pharmacies that it is so?



DR. STEWART: Yes, again, on the basis of our discussion, I pursued this with our staff and there is nothing on file to indicate that either pharmacy protested any decision made by the nursing home in the honourable member's community. I would say that the judgment, in terms of where to purchase, would be a function of those nursing homes and not a function of the Department of Health. If either the pharmacies or the nursing homes have a different understanding, I would certainly entertain those in writing and would pursue it, in addition.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: ACTUARIAL STUDY - UPDATE



MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. On October 31st, just about five weeks ago, the Minister of Health said he would provide me with some numbers. The numbers were in relation to how the premium for the Pharmacare Program for seniors was arrived at, how they came about the numbers to figure out the rebate that the seniors would be coming back to. I would like to know if the minister has had a chance to get this information together? On two occasions I have asked since then and the last time we talked he said it was really lawyerish (Interruption) I believe I should be corrected, he didn't say it, he wrote it. The fact of the matter is, the question I would like answered by the minister is will he provide whatever information he has, in whatever form he has it, by the end of today?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable gentleman is referring to a rather informal note I sent him across the floor to say that I would act on his question as soon as possible and that I would, in turn, not be lawyerish about my answer. The fact is that the answers I got from my staff were rather lawyerish and I sent them back for reconfiguration. I trust that the honourable member opposite will understand that and be in agreement that we must present as simple a process, as simple a briefing note to him, as we possibly can.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister acknowledges that he does have the information. We acknowledge that I have been waiting for over five weeks and I think I have been rather patient. There are a number of seniors out there who have been calling and asking about this information that may not be as patient as I am. My question for the minister is, why is he delaying the release of this information when he says he has it and he says he could provide it, way back on October 31st?



DR. STEWART: There is no intention, obviously, of delaying any information. I merely want to present it in as simple a form as possible so that the honourable member understands it, the same as I have tried to do in the configurations given me. If the honourable gentleman opposite has specific questions by specific seniors, I would appreciate him submitting them to me and I will have our staff deal with them directly.



MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say first off that the people in my constituency have been calling me because they can't get answers from the honourable minister and now I am beginning to understand why they are calling me because I can't get answers from the honourable minister. My last and final question to the minister is, would you provide us with the figures that came up that you used to develop the premium that the seniors are paying the Pharmacare Program for? This figure must have been in place, the reasoning behind it must have been in place before that premium was ever set out and given to the seniors of this province.



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, yes certainly, I think the original question, if I could paraphrase the honourable member opposite was, the reasoning behind the figure and the reasoning behind the actuarial studies and I will attempt to honour that as soon as I can. This afternoon I will check on the status of that report which I sent back in order to make it more readable and to deal with the whole philosophy behind the setting of the premium. I am sure the honourable member would appreciate that fact.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - PHARMACARE PROG.: PENSIONERS (DVA) - EXEMPTION



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health and it has to do with Pharmacare. When the Minister of Health announced the Pharmacare Program last April, he said in this House that veterans who qualified for the DVA pension would be exempt and they wouldn't have to pay the $215 premium. My question for the minister is, is this still the case?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, yes, I was assured at that time that those DVA recipients of the Pharmacare coverage which was complete coverage, have never been included in the Pharmacare Program and would not be required to participate in the Pharmacare Program. That is, I believe, the essence of my answer.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister said he believes the answer to be yes, I assume that is what he said. I had a call from veterans on the weekend and I also checked with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. There is obviously some confusion, even since April, with regard to who pays and who doesn't. There is a classification called A and a classification called B with DVA pensioners, as the minister knows. Some veterans are now being told that to be sure you are covered, you buy the premium because the rep in the Valley can't get, for sure, from the Department of Health who is covered and who isn't covered. So now the veterans in my area are being told to pay the $215 premium.



I am asking the minister, will he please ensure that there is no confusion with the veterans of this province, so that those poor veterans who fought, risked their lives to fight for this country, who are now finding out when they thought they were exempt, are being told they have to pay the $215 premium. Will the minister please check into the issue and ensure all veterans that that won't happen?



DR. STEWART: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the honourable gentleman bringing any confusion or any difficulties, particularly in respect to veterans, to the attention of this House and particularly to my attention. I will ensure that any kind of confusion and any kind of investigation that is needed would be both rectified and carried out.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am sure veterans will now, hopefully, be given the facts. I would ask the minister, would he ensure that all veterans who qualify to DVA pension, give us assurance in this House that they will not have to pay the $215 premium and, if they paid it, not knowing for sure whether they had to or not, they will be reimbursed their $215?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly give the undertaking that if, in fact, veterans were covered by their federal plans before, they would not have to pay the premium, they would continue their coverage through the federal plan. If there is any problem or if any mistakes have been made, I certainly would rectify those as quickly as possible.



MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



HEALTH - MINISTER: ABSENCE - REASON



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Health. The minister will be aware that as debate on his Bill No. 47 took place in this House over the last few days, he, the minister, last Thursday I think, took a trip out of the country and was away for some four days.



I want to ask the minister if he will tell this House what government business took the minister on that most recent trip?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I was attending a conference that had been booked some time ago. It was concerning emergency medical services. I could not change that and I was not away for four days, it was actually two and one-half days. I think that might give the honourable gentleman opposite an answer that is satisfactory in that regard.



MR. DONAHOE: I wonder, then, if the minister would indicate to the House as to whether or not he had accepted the invitation to attend this particular function in his capacity as Minister of Health for the Province of Nova Scotia, or by reason of some other involvement or association with some organizations or individuals?



DR. STEWART: No, this particular exercise is both as minister, I have some expertise that I could gather and, in addition, from the work of the committee garner experience to be used in this particular jurisdiction. I have certainly availed myself of that, I think to the benefit of the province.



MR. DONAHOE: With respect, I am a little unclear with that answer but perhaps by way of final supplementary I might ask the minister this; I have noticed that the minister has not filed an expense report since August 1995. I wonder if the minister would perhaps make the undertaking to the House that if he was invited on the trip, which we are now describing, by some organization or individual, would he, the minister, confirm that that organization, or the minister personally, covered the cost of the expense? Or if he, in fact, was there in his representative capacity as Minister of Health for the Province of Nova Scotia, would he perhaps tomorrow indicate to the House, by filing the expense details of that trip and perhaps give us an indication of the presentation he made or the conference he experienced in his capacity as Minister of Health?



[3:30 p.m.]



DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, I could inform the honourable gentleman opposite, now, that no government expenditure was entailed in my trip, not in any way. In fact, I was very pleased to have participated in this particular effort. Certainly, wherever I travel, and it is very unusual that I would not feel that my position within the government would be in some way affiliated to whatever I attend, I have always felt that whenever, in fact, I would travel it would be, as much as possible, at the saving of the taxpayer. I have tried in this case to do the same thing.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.





HOUSING: MULGRAVE PARK - BREAK-INS



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. The minister is no doubt aware of the recent break-ins at the Mulgrave Park housing units and the thief is believed to have been entering the homes by using a master key. The residents are very concerned about what happened and one woman is even going to move because she is so distressed over the situation. Could the minister explain what she is doing about this matter?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the member opposite has raised this issue because the housing development here in the City of Halifax has in the past experienced some break-ins that have definitely left some of the residents feeling stressed and insecure. We are dedicated and committed to safe, secure housing in this province and, as a result of these incidents, the Housing Authority has taken it upon themselves to change all the locks in all of the units that are involved in this, so that the residents that are affected will have a sense of security. I know that the whole issue is now in the hands of the police, as well; they are investigating the whole situation.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, did the minister say that they are changing all the locks?



MR. SPEAKER: Yes, she did.



MR. MCINNES: Thank you very much. Well, I think this is very important because those people are very concerned. I am sure any of us would be if we were in those units and people are able to get in with a key, when they think they are quite safe. Would the minister please, when the report is completed, report to this House exactly what is being done and give us a full report so that those citizens at Mulgrave Park will not be concerned and will be able to rest and stay in their homes in good faith?



MS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to report as soon as the police investigation is finished. I want to ensure all those who are involved that we are doing everything to make sure that they are living within a safe and secure environment.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



HEALTH - GAMBLING ADDICTION: SERVICES - PROPOSALS



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go, through you, sir, to the Minister of Health. The Department of Health, I understand, is currently preparing a request for proposals for enhanced gambling addiction services and, by going for the proposal call, is opening the door to the private-for-profit business sector to get involved in delivering that. My question to the minister is, why is it that he and his department have chosen to go that route, by calling for proposals, instead of having those services delivered by drug dependency and/or other non-profit health care sector providers?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question because it is a pertinent question and it revolves very much around the provision of health care services in innovative ways and ways that we can in fact partner, if you would, with those who have much experience in the area of gambling addiction. I would anticipate there are several groups who have had much experience and we would, of course in any kind of request for proposal, emphasize the need for a background in this particular area and the area of gambling addiction. We have several very well-recognized organizations, several of which are non-profit in fact who would be in the queue for such agreements.



MR. HOLM: My first supplementary is very brief and that is, does the government and this minister consider that gambling addiction is an illness?



MR. SPEAKER: It is a rather subjective question but, nonetheless, the honourable Minister of Health.



DR. STEWART: I can give what I might humbly concede as a medical response.



MR. SPEAKER: I know that Beauchesne says a legal opinion is out of order but it doesn't say a medical opinion is out of order.



DR. STEWART: I think that you gets what you pays for, Mr. Speaker, so here goes. Compulsive gambling or problem gambling, in the opinion of most medical scientists, would be a symptom of an underlying disorder, yes.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that was my understanding and that was my understanding of what the government's position was.



Mr. Speaker, this House, the minister of course will know, unanimously passed a resolution in support of the 10 goals for improving health care for Canadians. One of those health care goals, Number 7, was to eliminate profit-making from illness.



My question then, given the fact that this House has approved and the minister has approved those principles, will the minister guarantee that the addiction services that are so badly needed will not be provided on a profit-basis model, which, of course, will be taking additional dollars away from providing valuable services so that the company can be making their profit and taking it who knows where. Will the minister guarantee that those services will be provided on a not-for-profit basis by the health care provider who is going to be providing this very badly needed service?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly give the undertaking to the honourable member opposite and, in fact, pledge to this House that the provision of service will be the most efficient and most cost-effective but primarily of the highest quality that we can deliver to the citizens of Nova Scotia who might need those services.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - MSI: COVERAGE - REDUCTION



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, too, is for the Minister of Health. Last March the government reached an agreement with the Nova Scotia Medical Society on a process for managing medical services in the province. The minister advised that $5 million worth of insured medical services would have to be cut in order to pay for the agreement. I would ask the minister, could he indicate at this time if those services that are going to be de-insured have been identified?





HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, that issue is undergoing, certainly, scrutiny and debate at the Joint Management Committee. There is a suggested approach to this. It is an approach that I have looked at. I have sent it back for reconsideration and I would anticipate further debate on that subject.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would ask then, could the minister tell the House who will be making the decision with respect to what will be de-insured? There are obviously some ideas or committee looking at it, as the minister indicated, but who will make the final decision on what services will be de-insured and when can we expect to hear what the final results are?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, that process will be a decision by the Joint Management Committee, which will come from a report from them to the minister for action. The minister would eventually make that decision, in concert with staff.



MR. MOODY: He told me the process, he didn't tell me when. I hope he will tell me when we might hear it.



I would ask the minister, since he says the final decision will be between himself and staff, is there any opportunity for the public to have any kind of say at all in what will be de-insured by the medical profession, by MSI? Will there be an opportunity at some point so that the public, who are paying the bills, will have some say in what the final decisions are?



DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, certainly consultation with the public in terms of this particular issue would be necessary. I might say that the ability to de-insure services has been done at the level of the Ministry of Health for years. There has never been much public input whatsoever. There has never been input from this place in that process. I think that this issue of de-insurance is, by far, overrated in terms of the priorities. We have greater priorities in this government for provision of efficient care and efficiency of service and breadth of service, particularly in terms of new programs. So, in terms of timing, I would say that the issue of the insurance is not high on the priority list at this point.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



ENVIRON. - BEVERAGE CONTAINERS: RETURN SYSTEM - LEVEL



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. About a week ago, I questioned the Minister of the Environment with regard to the solid waste resource management policy or strategy and I questioned the minister with regard to the deposit of 10 cents on beverage containers. My question to the minister then and my question to the minister now is, will that tax or that levy or whatever he wishes to call it, be levied on the product at the manufacturer's level, at the jobber's level or at the retail level?



HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the 10 cent deposit fee is levied originally at the wholesale level. In turn, the consumer pays it at the retail level.



MR. RUSSELL: So, Mr. Speaker, if I walk into a drugstore and I buy a case of pop, about 12 cans of Coke or something, and the cost of that product is $5.00, and I go up to the cash register, what do I pay tax on, the $5.00 or the $5.00 minus the $1.20 that constitutes the tax?



MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, he will pay the sales tax on the product he has bought as a consumer item, which is the pop. He will not pay a tax on the deposit fee. (Applause)



MR. RUSSELL: Well, just a minute, don't pat him on the back yet.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Is it $5.00 or $3.80 that he pays the tax on?



MR. RUSSELL: What do you pay the tax on, is my question. When they ring up the product on the cash register at the present time, they would ring up $5.00 and then they would ring up the 11 per cent tax, 55 cents, and that would go on the product. Or, if there is GST in between, they take the product, add on the GST and then take the tax on the product plus the GST. What I am asking the minister is this. When I buy that product, when I pay the tax, is the 11 per cent on the cost of the item plus the deposit, or just on the cost of the product?



MR. ADAMS: To make it more simple, Mr. Speaker, he would pay the tax on the cost of the product.



HON. GUY BROWN: Hear! Hear! Good minister. (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH: EARLY RETIREMENT PACKAGES - DETAILS



MR. GEORGE MOODY: We will wait and see. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is again to the Minister of Health. In the last two years, the Minister of Health has announced early retirement packages. I believe there was an early retirement package last year for health care workers and a package announced this year. I wonder if the minister could indicate whether this year was a new package or an add-on from the old package?



HON. RONALD STEWART: This is a much broader package, Mr. Speaker. It would, in fact, apply to union and non-union personnel, for example. It has additional benefits in that regard and so, in that regard, I would consider it a new package, if you wish.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, for my first supplementary to the Minister of Health. I guess why I was saying a new package, as the minister indicated, this was a broader package. How come the health care workers who were forced out of their jobs in 1994 were left with a smaller package than the hospital workers who are going to lose their jobs in 1995? I am asking the minister, anybody who lost their job in 1994 had to take the early retirement package or package to leave, like they are doing this year. This year they are offered, I think, up to $5,000 for retraining. Last year there was nothing for retraining. I would ask the minister, those people out there who are still looking for work and took the early retirement package last year, or took the package to leave, if they are looking for training, could they come under this new package?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, again we are looking here at what was currently available in that year, last year, and what is currently available now. There are some differences. I would suggest that when someone has obliged himself or herself of the particular package, they are enjoying those benefits and would not be, of course, able to avail themselves of the current package.





[3:45 p.m.]



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, I would ask the minister why people last year were given a poorer package than the people this year, what's the difference? Why aren't workers being treated all the same? I would ask the minister, again, if there are people out there still looking to be retrained, haven't found a job since 1994, will he ensure that those people receive the same package, the $5,000 for training, as the people who have to take the package this year?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, to equalize what has gone on last year versus this year, there were changes last year that are not incorporated into this year. We are dealing with (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order!



DR. STEWART: In some respects it is broader; it is covering non-union. That would be the equivalent to going back and saying if you were non-union or if you were union last year, we would make people (Interruption) This is a fair package. We worked very hard to come up with this and we made a fair attempt, Mr. Speaker, to provide for the needs of both union and non-union in this particular package currently.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



DND SHELBURNE - HOUSING: PRIVATIZATION - REJECT



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. While the federal minister, the Honourable David Dingwall, is in China trying to sell what he says is the number one priority - that is housing for ordinary citizens - his department has turned down a proposal that would have seen surplus DND housing units in Shelburne County being used to meet some of the identified needs for the 157 low income families on the waiting list for subsidized and low-cost, affordable housing to sell that housing to them.



My question to the minister really is, what representations has the minister, herself, made to the Prime Minister's Office, to the federal Cabinet, to Nova Scotia MPs, to have Mr. Dingwall's department reject the private offer that has been put in and accepted so far for those housing units so that they can, in fact, be used to meet the identified housing needs that exist in Shelburne County?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this question. As the honourable member opposite, I think, well knows, the Shelburne property was vacated by the Department of National Defence last spring. At that time, the Department of Housing was given an option to purchase it at the assessed value and, given the fact that this province is under financial restraint, we felt we couldn't, at that time, come forward with that assessed value.



We did work very closely with the MLA for Shelburne, as well as the community group that was formed to come forward with a proposal to the federal government so that community group could access the properties and provide affordable housing. We offered every assistance possible through the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs to that community group, so that they could access that property and provide the housing that the member opposite mentions.



At the same time, there was a tender put forward for that property to the general public. There were two groups that bid for the property and, indeed, the community group was not given the opportunity to access the property; it was given to private developers.



As the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs, we are taking this very seriously. We have made several presentations, federally, to Cabinet Ministers, DND and Public Works, to ask that this community group be given every opportunity to access that property. We worked very closely with them, on their behalf, to access the property so that we can allow the community to develop the properties for the people in the area where subsidized housing is very much in need.



MR. HOLM: I am not trying to be critical of the minister and I understand that many in the community group are quite pleased with the minister's efforts so far, trying to ensure that the property is going to be used for a public purpose. I understand that they were trying to get the assessed value, which according to Public Works was in the range of $1.5 million. The truth is, they sold it for $258,000; in other words, they didn't get anywhere close to what they were looking for.



My question to the minister is simply this, given the fact that, it is my understanding anyway, that the sale cannot go through without the approval of the federal Cabinet, since Public Works didn't get anywhere near the $1.5 million that they were looking for, has the minister, the Premier, the Cabinet, made representations to the federal Cabinet asking them to reject that private offer of approximately $258,000 and to have those properties then turned over instead to meet the community needs because if, in fact, those 48 units were made available, that would mean a low cost housing unit would be made available for families in desperate need, for under $6,000 a unit? My question is has the minister made such a representation to the federal Cabinet?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, yes, absolutely. We have done that through the local MLA, through the local MP. We have made presentations both to the Minister of Public Works and the Minister of National Defence, asking them to act within any legal requirements that may come forward, given the fact that the tender has been awarded. We have made presentation asking them to delay the awarding of that tender to that group and to work very closely with the people in the area to provide them with the opportunity to access those properties.



MR HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Department of Public Works rejected the request for a two week delay. Again, the federal Cabinet has got to approve it and the federal Cabinet can simply say no, they are rejecting that on the basis that the amounts aren't sufficient and that it doesn't meet a public need. Those buildings were built initially with public monies and those buildings, I would suggest, should continue to meet a badly needed and identified public need. My final question to the minister is, since $258,000 or less than $6,000 per unit is all the federal government is going to be receiving out of this, is her department, is this government prepared to tell the federal government that they will match that $258,000 offer that they have received, if they reject that private offer and turn those housing units over to the Department of Housing in the Province of Nova Scotia so that they can be put to use for a constructive need to meet a real and identified need for those low income families that live in that area?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that the member opposite is asking me to tell the federal government and the Cabinet what to do. What I have done is actually gone down and toured the property and it is a property that I think should be used as quickly as possible to prevent any deterioration and also to work with and meet the community group that was working so diligently on behalf of all the people in the area, the municipal governments, the local community, had the full support of the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs. We are willing to continue to work with them to press the federal government to allow that community group, in fact, to access that property, not so much the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs but for us to work with them to offer any support we can from a technical nature and from a supportive nature to allow them to move forward in the way that they had attempted to do originally. I will commit myself to continue to work with that group and with the MLA for Shelburne.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



FIN. - BEVERAGE CONTAINERS: TAX - RESPONSIBILITY



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance, no doubt, heard my questions to the Minister of the Environment with regard to the tax on beverage containers. Would the minister first of all tell me that because this tax is going to be levied at the wholesale level, will the Department of Finance be responsible for collection, auditing, et cetera, of those monies?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I followed the honourable member's question with interest and quite frankly, I am not as well informed on it as the honourable minister who is directly responsible for the program but I have already taken that question on notice and will attempt to provide the information.



MR. RUSSELL: The minister, I think, pre-empted me because I am not aware of what the question was. (Laughter)



We will have to start from square one again, I guess. Would the minister confirm that what the Minister of the Environment said, was correct. In other words, that the product at the checkout counter, the sales tax, will be paid on the cost of the product exclusive of the deposit on the container?



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I thought I attempted to answer that question. The honourable minister gave the answer to the member and I have said that I am not personally up-to-date on that issue, but I certainly accept the answer that was given by the minister. I will certainly attempt to bring myself up-to-date within my own department and confirm that that is the case.



MR. RUSSELL: I find this very difficult to believe that neither minister knows what the other minister is doing. In fact, I do not even know what kind of an answer I got from the Minister of the Environment. He said you are going to pay tax on the product, well I know that.



What I want to know, is do you pay the tax on the deposit and surely to goodness somebody can figure that out.



MR. SPEAKER: This might be suitable for a written question.



MR. BOUDREAU: I fully agree with the honourable member that somebody can figure this out. (Laughter) It just so happens that, to date, I have not addressed that question as specifically as the honourable member, perhaps would want me to. There have been other issues on our plate, but I will certainly take that question and attempt to respond from the Department of Finance and I would suspect it will be same answer he has gotten from the Minister of the Environment.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.



JUSTICE - YOUNG OFFENDERS ACT:

COMMITTEE (HoC) - PRESENTATION (MIN.)



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My short snapper is to the Minister of Justice. The minister will be aware that federal Minister Allan Rock is looking for alternatives to youth incarceration and changes to the Young Offenders Act and that there is to be a Commons Justice Committee tour the country and they will be in our region in the next while.



My question to the minister is simply this, is the Minister of Justice proposing to make a presentation of this government's concerns about the Young Offenders Act to the committee on behalf of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: I will certainly check with my department to get the information on the tour. I am sure that the honourable member would be pleased to know that Nova Scotia has one of the lowest, the second lowest, custody rates of young offenders in our country, Canada. I am sure he would be glad to know that.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.



Today is Opposition Members' Day, but I have had a request from the Government House Leader to very quickly call, I believe, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers so that a paper can be quickly tabled and the Opposition has consented to this.



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report to questions asked me yesterday of the member for Kings North regarding renovations that took place at the Department of Health which were mandated or ordered by security and fire regulations. Also, in my own department and in both cases, the costs were at a very minimum from two points of view: they were done in-house and secondly, we consolidated departments without expanding square footage of leased space. We have saved the government money.



MR. SPEAKER: The return is tabled.



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



PRIVATE MEMBER'S PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 49.



Bill No. 49 - Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation (Nova Scotia) Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, late in the 1980's there was a concerted effort on the part of the fishing industry to prevent drilling for hydrocarbon resources on Georges Bank.



Opposition to drilling on Georges is in contrast to the acceptance of drilling on the Scotian Shelf and that is related to the special character of Georges Bank.



Georges Bank is the home of 100 species of fish and provides a maximum sustainable yield of 7.6 metric tonnes per square kilometre which is two and one-half times the yield of the Scotian Shelf and three times the yield of the Gulf of Maine.



Georges Bank is, indeed, a complex of oceanographic phenomena dominated by a massive clockwise gyre which can recirculate in as little as 60 days. It is a combination of:



(1) Upwellings from its slopes;



(2) Vital sunlight in places penetrating to the very bank itself;



(3) An abundance of nutrients; and



(4) A phytoplankton bloom three times that of the average for the world's continental shelves and 10 times that of ocean production.



[4:00 p.m.]



It mixes up a kind of natural soup which not only sustains life but fuels it, like a sort of biological super broth. It is a menagerie of marine life and it supports 18 species of cetaceans, 32 species of sea birds, 4 species of sea turtles and 20 commercial species of finfish, including cod, haddock, herring, yellowtail, sand lance and winter flounder. It has sea scallops which are the fastest growing and largest in the world and it provides offshore lobster in the depths of the Corsair Canyon and the Crowell Basin, which are associated with Georges Bank.



The 1960's witnessed entry of rapacious foreign distant water fleets on Georges Bank and the subsequent collapse of the herring, mackerel and haddock stocks. In fact, the collapse of the haddock stocks was so dramatic that with it collapsed the Boston haddock fishing fleet. In 1977, the 200-mile economic zone shut out foreigners but it made moot the question of where the U.S.-Canada boundary lay. After abortive 1978 attempts to reach an agreement with the United States, the question was sent to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. On October 11, 1984, many of us will remember that the court rendered a decision which, in fact, was very much in Canada's favour. Although receiving a smaller area of Georges Bank than the United States, ours is more productive with respect to fish stocks.



The Northeast Peak was put into Canadian ownership. We thus acquired the best scallop grounds. We received much more of the finfish resource than the aborted treated would have provided and retained the lobster lucrative Corsair Canyon and Crowell Basin. The Hague decision settled the boundary question but it did not answer the basic and troubling question which continues to vex us, that is the question of the management of straddling finfish stocks.



There is the question of hydrocarbon resource extraction. Environmental protection must be central to concerns respecting management of the Georges Bank resources. We must focus on the potential for damage to living resources by spills and discharges of drill cuttings and fluids, including formation waters which are associated with petroleum extraction. The fear is not solely of a fish kill directly resulting from a mishap but, rather, the possibility of a transfer of toxins through the food chain by microbiological and chemical processes.



Georges Bank species are greatly dependent on the benthic or bottom dwelling community for food. We do not know with sufficient certainty whether lower level contamination would disrupt the food chain to the extent that the fishery would be adversely impacted. We do know that chronic oil discharge can affect recruitment of stocks, resulting in decreased spawning, death of fish eggs and larvae, delays in egg development and decreased recruitment generally. While toxic compounds may not kill directly, they may cause complications with fish health, which can lead to mortality.



The knowns are quantifiable, Mr. Speaker. However, the unknowns are myriad in number. Finfish and cetaceans, being more mobile, are immediately less vulnerable than scallops and lobster. Scallops are most abundant on the Northeast Peak, which lies entirely within the Canadian zone and on which Texaco proposed to locate the Growler and Hunky Dorey projects of the late 1980's. It is important for us to understand that 55 per cent of all of Nova Scotia's scallop catch comes from Georges Bank. Lobster from the Crowell Basin and the Corsair Canyon could be affected in the spring and summer months, when the lobsters are prone to crawling up onto the banks.



In 1976 the Argo Merchant spill rendered a vitally important observation. We now know that dissolved oil can stay in the Georges Bank water column at elevated concentrations for at least five months following a spill. This is long enough, if sufficient toxins are released, to risk a full fishing season and threaten entire year classes of marine life; it is enough for those toxins to be fully circulated two and one-half times.



Mr. Speaker, most commercially important finfish in Georges have planktonic eggs or larvae, or both, which drift for four to five months before developing into juvenile fish which are capable of swimming strongly. It is also, again, that five months during which those toxins could be present in that Georges Bank gyre. Also, while Georges is not a fully closed hydrologic system, neither is it fully open. Remember that the time required for a full circuit of the Georges gyre is two months. This means eggs and larvae spawned at many times and in many places would be carried through oil and gas lease areas during their development into juvenile fish. Damage would be most extensive where the system is most closed which, coincidentally, is when the largest year classes are present.



Oil production spills might have little impact during years of low recruitment, but could have dramatic, even devastating impact on the large year classes on which the Georges Bank fishery is utterly dependent.



On May 21, 1986, then Premier John Buchanan iterated the position of his government in the Legislature when he said, "As long as I am Premier and the fishermen and petroleum industry do not agree, I will not support drilling on Georges Bank.". This was further re-enforced at a Yarmouth press conference in which I took part on November 24, 1987.



The consequences of that policy statement in that press conference are as follows:



1. The passage of the Georges Bank Protection Act by this Legislature in 1988 with all-Party support.



2. The announcement on April 15, 1988, by the federal Tory Government of a 12 year moratorium on drilling on Georges Bank; that is until the year 2000.



3. The consolidation of the two governments' policies in mirror legislation passed in both Parliaments in 1988 as part of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Resources Accord Implementation Act and it effectively shelved any prospect of hydrocarbon drilling on Georges at least until 2000.



There is a trigger mechanism in both Acts which requires that a joint review panel consider the environmental and socio-economic impact of exploration or drilling for petroleum on Georges Bank. The panel is further charged with responsibility for making recommendations on hydrocarbon exploration and drilling on Georges.



While the provincial legislation orders that the panel be established no later than January 1, 1998, the federal legislation orders that the panel be established no later than January 1, 1996. As all members will know, there were advertisements placed in the Chronicle-Herald recently with respect to asking for persons to come forward and volunteer for the panel and, as others will know, there is great concern within the fishing industry that there will be apparently no one from the industry sitting on that federal panel; in fact, the industry had to fight tooth and nail even to have somebody on the selection committee to determine who would sit on that panel.



Hence, Mr. Speaker, the need to move expeditiously to ensure that the Government of Canada knows unequivocally that we do not want exploration or drilling on Georges as soon as 2000.



In 1994, the market value of the Georges Bank fishery was $157,395,000. That represents 32 per cent of the total market value of Nova Scotia's fishery; 23 per cent of that value comes from scallops alone. More than ever before, Georges plays a critical role, especially in this time of the downturn of the fishery, in ensuring the viability of the commercial fishery of southwest Nova Scotia in particular.



More than ever before, Georges is central to the provision of employment in the processing plants of southwest Nova Scotia. More than ever before, we must ask ourselves the question, is it in the interest of Nova Scotia to expose this renewable Georges Bank resource to the risk of ecological damage in order to exploit non-renewable hydrocarbon resources?



More than ever before, Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we ask ourselves, are we prepared, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, to stand up and say that as long as we are members and the fishermen and the petroleum industry do not agree, we, the MLAs of Nova Scotia, and most particularly those of us who represent southwestern Nova Scotia, will not support drilling on Georges Bank? More than ever before, it is essential that members of this Nova Scotia Legislature, many of whom represent constituencies in southwest Nova Scotia, set aside any partisan considerations in favour of a free and unfettered vote on protection for Georges Bank. More than ever before, we must send a resounding no to Ottawa respecting allowing hydrocarbon resource exploration and drilling on Georges Bank, and the best way to accomplish this is to vote in favour of the bill which is before this House this afternoon.



Mr. Speaker, I urge all Parties to allow passage of this bill through second reading today so that it can proceed to the Committee on Law Amendments, where Nova Scotians can have the opportunity to come forward and to be heard on this vital matter of public policy. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to come to the House today on Bill No. 49, to debate the issue that the honourable member opposite had brought forward with regard to the whole issue of Georges Bank and in regard to the process that we have been following in the potential development, obviously at this point in time, I guess, really the issue of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Accord in regard to its implementation for review of the potential of development of the offshore in Georges Bank.



The member opposite brought a number of points forward and I would like to compliment him for his technical background in the fishing industry and the importance of that. Obviously he has done some homework in that, and as the former Minister of Fisheries, he understands the issue reasonably well. Secondly, I would like to point out that as he also is a former Minister of Natural Resources, the ministry that I have today, it kind of seems to me a little odd when I read in the paper - and by the way, this is the youngest picture I have seen of the honourable member in quite some time - his hair was a darker colour in shade than it is today. In fact, there is a little bit more of it in this picture than I see as I look across the floor.



As the honourable member points out in the article here, "Mr. Leefe said the reason for haste is that an independent three-member panel must be struck by Jan. 1 . . .". It is time for haste, Mr. Speaker; it is time for us to move in haste. It was interesting to me when I read that. When he was minister in 1992 and 1993, there was no haste to move forward with a resolution or a motion on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of the Province of Nova Scotia, to move in haste on an issue that he feels so struggled with today.



It was interesting when I read it, that I thought, well maybe in 1993 when I became the minister and he had lost the position of being a member of government, that if he could not have done it during the time when he was in power, brought this issue to the floor of the Legislative Assembly, realizing as a former minister the importance of this issue in his view, that he didn't bring it forward in 1993 when I became minister. Or, in fact, in January 1994 he could have brought it forward, or in 1995, February, March, April, May, June, July, August or September. He waits until December. Today, December 6th, we debate it. On January 1st the committee is to be put in place under the legislation of the accord.



He realizes all too well the importance of the accord legislation, that it mirrors federal-provincial legislation. You just don't, as a province, change that overnight without having discussions and negotiations at the federal level. It is parallel legislation. In other words, we just can't unilaterally or on our own change the accord legislation at the whim of whatever our decision is. He, above all, as Minister of the Department of Natural Resources for some time understands very clearly how the accord legislation operates and the process that needs to be followed. The question I ask, is this an individual playing politics with this very serious issue? Is this member opposite afraid of the facts that might come out of an inquiry, a socio-economic, environmental inquiry, as it were, of the peoples of Nova Scotia and those in the fishing industry that have some concerns? Is he afraid of the facts that might come out that would prove the cases that he has just made so articulately earlier in his presentation to this House? Do you think he is afraid of that information?



[4:15 p.m.]



It is almost as if a johnny-came-lately with the information on December 6th for this House to be discussing this very important issue. Maybe he has turned over a new leaf but it has been used before and I won't use it. The Minister of Finance has brought the issue forward.



The member opposite has also brought up an interesting point of putting the issue off. Since we have taken over in government, the one thing I have realized all too well from this previous government, is that they were experts at putting things off. They were experts at not dealing with the realities of health and the problems in health in bringing forward a way to resolve a health system to maintain it, for the integrity and for the future operations of generations to come. He realizes that putting off the fiscal stability of the Province of Nova Scotia, that this Minister of Finance has under a Liberal Regime, that they have put off, year after year, after year, that now the children of this province and the future generations have a $9 billion debt in the Province of Nova Scotia and another put-off process and the list could go on, whether it is Workers' Compensation or dealing with NSRL, or dealing with Community Services, or dealing with fishery items, they have put it off and they are experts at putting issues off and quite frankly, I get a little interested by the fact that again, he comes forward with a recommendation to extend another 10 years.



Interestingly enough, in the Act under Section 134 points out that, "No person shall before January 1, 2000, engage in exploration or drilling for the production and conservation processing or transportation of petroleum in the portion of the offshore area described as Schedule 4 of the George's Bank.". What is interesting in the legislation in the accord under Section 2, Prohibition for a further period, which is what the member is really asking for here, it states, very clearly and as a former minister of this department understands, in fact, he was in government when these decisions were made, it says very clearly in Section 2, "On or before the first day of January, 2000 and after considering the report of the review panel referred to in Section 134(b), the minister . . .", the federal minister and the provincial minister may jointly decide on what to move forward.



I think the point is made here, very clearly, that again, if it was 1991, 1992, 1993, or in fact, since we came into power, in 1994 or early in 1995, as far as ministers go in dealing with changing the accord and the whole issue of the prohibition process that he is talking about, that the ministers cannot do that without the report of the review panel. The review panel, ladies and gentlemen, and members of this House, that is being referred to in here is the review panel that needs to be, under the accord legislation announced by January 1, 1996. So, I ask the question, is this an individual playing politics with an issue that he helped draft, as a member of the government who was very much aware of the Canada-Nova Offshore Petroleum Act of 1987 when he was in power, a member of the Cabinet and is very familiar with what the process would be?



Prohibition for future periods is very clear in this legislation that we need to have and it states under the report that he and his government put together in conjunction with that of the federal government, that we cannot make a consideration without the report of the review panel for which that has to come forward today. The member opposite also pointed out that when it comes to the review panel, there could be a prohibition of that particular process. In other words, the bill basically says that we should have a prohibition for another 10 years. Maybe, what he is talking about is another band-aid solution to a very serious issue. Quite frankly, I don't think we need any more band-aids, we need some reality.



As the former minister well knows, we cannot act unilaterally in regard to changing federal legislation without the support of the federal government. I didn't write the bill; this government did not write the bill; we did not write the accord legislation. He and his government were the ones who drafted the accord legislation that basically bound a process. Now he wants to unbind a process at the eleventh hour, realizing it cannot technically even be done. I find that very interesting and he, above all, knows that. The province cannot work alone; it needs to have, under the accord legislation, the ability to work together.



The member opposite also brought forward, in regard to the public review process - the public review is what we are talking about - this review panel committee. The review panel committee and panel members, as the member opposite pointed out, this is, in fact, the article that was in the newspaper that was circulated around. We had some 96 people, I believe, who applied for this very important and very serious issue and, of course, we will be bringing forward the names in a very short period of time.



I would like to table that, if there is anybody in the House to allow me to table this -I think everybody is gone - I would like to table this for members of the House. If they have any questions in regard to the public review of the environmental and socio-economic impact of exploration or drilling for petroleum on Georges Bank, offshore Nova Scotia.



HON. GUY BROWN: The date?



MR. DOWNE: The date was done, I don't have the paper with me with the date, but I am sure the Minister of Labour, if he wishes, I will have it circulated and sent around with the exact dates of when that was done, and I would be happy to do that for the honourable Minister of Labour.



Interestingly enough, the Minister of Labour asked for the date for which that particular document was circulated in newspapers around North America. This member was also a member of this Legislative Assembly when that former government brought in the accord legislation that binds the process of the Province of Nova Scotia and that of the federal government to work together, for which now the member opposite is saying, now that he is out of power and now that he is away from the opportunity to make the changes he is talking about today, hours before January 1, 1996, now he is throwing it at the feet of this government, the last minute of the process, and saying, change it.



He, himself, had the ability, as minister responsible in the Province of Nova Scotia - the former Minister of the Environment he was, the former Minister of Fisheries in the Province of Nova Scotia and the former Minister of Natural Resources - had the power and had the ability to make the changes then while he was in power. But, obviously, he never had the ability to do it or the desire to do it, or maybe he did not have the support of his government to bring it forward. Instead of dealing with it with this government, in the beginning of its term, he waits until less than one month away before, by the legislation and the accord itself, I have to comply with what he and his government had put together.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame.



MR. DOWNE: Yes, shame. The member opposite and the member behind me here from the beautiful Island of Cape Breton say, shame, and rightfully so. Shame it is.



AN HON. MEMBER: Tory times are tough times.



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have lots more things to talk about. I want to talk about the issue of the review panel. This review panel process has to be right. The people of this province - the fisher persons of this province, the public of this province - and the people within the United States of America, or anywhere else where our waters may flow, are interested in the responsibility and the process for which this, the committee, will be responsible. They are not only looking at the economic benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia, they are looking after the social impact that this could have, one way or the other, on the Province of Nova Scotia and its peoples, as well as, most importantly, the environmental reality of the peoples of this province.



I think, Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that is very important to me because the environment is the most important thing that we have to discuss in this issue. The Minister of the Environment who is sitting at the back of the room - the Honourable Wayne Adams, a great Minister of the Environment - has brought in legislation that is second to none anywhere in Canada in regard to environmental integrity. I only wish that the member opposite, when he was the Minister of the Environment, could have realized the importance of a good Minister of the Environment's policies when it comes to making sure issues are handled for the best interests of all Nova Scotians.



This committee has been struck to look after a number of issues; they are to look after the biological aspect of what the effects would be in regard to this particular proposal, the physical factors, the drilling practices and looking at the communities and the effects of rural communities in the Province of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. It also has to deal with the issues and the legitimate concerns of the fishing industry in this province, the backbone of the economy, the natural resource-based sectors of this province are clearly and critically the important factor here that we have to look at as well.



Now the terms of reference for this particular body was also taken with a great deal of interest. The terms of reference for this very important committee is very much, to us, meaning the credibility of this committee, determines what its mandate will be. There will be draft terms of reference and they were built and developed after consultation with the fishing industry, the petroleum industry, after the Conservation Law Foundation of the United States of America and the Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee, of which Nova Scotians are a part of that particular committee. The panel consists of three people.



The member opposite, in 1990, the Tory Government set up the Ellis Commission for the Panuke-Cohasset operation. That is not a five member committee to deal with the environmental review process and the fishing concerns, it is not a four member committee, it is not a three member committee, it is not a two member committee, it is a one person committee that that minister, when he was in Cabinet, that government over there put in place to review the environmental and social and economic impacts of the Panuke-Cohasset operation. They said that was legitimate enough.



We have three people for which the fishing sector has had an advisory council to have an opportunity to have input in regard to who is hired and who will be on that very important panel; not one, not two but three. They had one and that was the committee that they felt was important to call the Ellis Commission. Now Mr. Ellis is a very credible individual and I would not want to defame him, I respect him very much, but I also take challenge that the member opposite says that three is not enough but when they did it, it was one. They are not number one but they are saying number one.



Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to close off but, in closing, I want to say that the preference of this minister and this ministry is not a matter of what the issue is today. The preference and the choice of what the decision will be is not my discussion here today. The issue is the process for which that government put in place and bound this government to control by and live by. That is what we are talking about; it is a process, it is the issue of environmental, social and economic impact on the communities of this province.



I want to make it very clear, what we need to have is informed information so that we can make a decision that will affect and benefit all of Nova Scotians, by Nova Scotians, for Nova Scotians and that is what this government will do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak for a few moments on the bill that is being called for discussion today, a bill that is intended to extend the moratorium on Georges Bank drilling until the year 2009.



I want to take a moment to go back in history a little bit and to address why it is, in fact, that we have the moratorium in place now. That is as a result of some effective pressure being applied on the government of the day back in 1988, the government headed by the former MLA for Halifax Atlantic, John Buchanan, who received significant pressure from an organization representing basically the fishing industry that was known as NORIG, no rigs on Georges. They convinced Nova Scotia and Ottawa to impose a moratorium on drilling until the year 2000. They did that because of the significant role that the fishing industry plays in this province and the significant role that Georges Bank has in the fishing industry.



Mr. Speaker, I also want to go back to the concerns that arose out of the 1986 offshore accord signed between Canada and Nova Scotia. I particularly want to talk about the references in that bill in the conflict between oil and fish. I want to indicate the differences between that accord and the Offshore Agreement of 1982. Mr. Speaker, the agreement of 1982, with respect to the fishing industry, said the following, "The waters off Canada's east cost have traditionally been a source of employment, income and opportunity for Canadians . . . For generations, fishermen have earned and continued to earn their livelihood from these waters.". This is a clause in the agreement, Mr. Speaker, Schedule II.



[4:30 p.m.]



It goes on, "The offshore environment, including the rich fisheries, are an enduring aspect of the offshore resource heritage which will not be sacrificed for shorter term offshore oil and gas development considerations. In the tendering and negotiation process the sponsor of a development proposal will be obliged, as a qualifying criterion, to meet stringent base line environmental requirements, and to demonstrate that the development options being considered are fully consistent with environmental values.". That was the Offshore Agreement of 1982 with respect to offshore development and that was in Schedule II, a very clear commitment to the fishing industry.



The problem in the 1986 accord was that there was no such statement positively affirming the relative importance of the fishery. Because, Mr. Speaker, I think one of the objectives of the 1986 accord was to achieve the early development of petroleum resources in the offshore area for the benefit of Canada as a whole and Nova Scotia in particular. In fact, what appeared in the 1986 accord, in Article 38.01 with respect to the fishery, was that "The joint Nova Scotia-Canada Fisheries Advisory Committee respecting the Offshore Area shall be continued. The Committee includes representatives of both Parties and a fishermen and the fishing industry and provides advice on matters relating to the fishery.".



In other words, whereas the 1982 accord had a schedule that was very clear in affirming its commitment and the importance of the fishery, the 1986 accord, Mr. Speaker, simply referred to a committee that would be in the advisory capacity. As a result of that and as a result of other developments on behalf of the government of the day, the Tory Government here in Nova Scotia and the Tory Government in Ottawa, there were concerns, particularly on behalf of the industry and other people concerned about the fishing industry, that Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia were putting forward a position that they were very much open for business and that, as a result of provisions in this accord, there may be some concerns that the accord leans in the favour of oil companies. That this philosophy that Canada is open for business may, in fact, mean, without protections in the accord, that the fishing industry was in jeopardy and very fertile fishing areas, like Georges Bank, were in jeopardy.



The further concern of that and the whole question of the movement away from protecting the fishery is further supported, Mr. Speaker, by the executive summary of the Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord from 1986. I will quote as follows: "That Accord reaffirms the high priority the two governments attach to the first oil and gas production in the Nova Scotia offshore area. To promote this objective, they have agreed to encourage interest holders to pursue actively early development of the first oil and gas projects as well as to make adjustments to their own policies and programs as may be appropriate to facilitate this goal.".



Mr. Speaker, the phrase is high priority and adjustments to their own policies and programs, give some significant cause for concern. I think that the discrepancies that existed between the 1982 accord and the 1986 accord were of sufficient cause for concern that the issue was brought to the government of the day, lead by former Premier John Buchanan. The no oil rigs on Georges group, representing the industry was successful, in company with others, in bringing about this moratorium.



Mr. Speaker, the member who introduced this bill, the member for Queens, went to some length in describing how important the ecosystem in Georges is to the fishing industry in this province. Back when the debates over the accord were being addressed, and when the accord was even originally formed, Canada made representations of a similar nature. They referred to agreements and to reports and studies that had been done that talked about the integral nature of that area of the province and fishing grounds, and how important it has been historically and how important it was in that day to the fortunes not only of Nova Scotia, but of communities over a great deal of not only southwestern Nova Scotia, but of other parts of this province and, for that matter, other parts of the region, providing the valuable income in a number of different fisheries to communities, to individuals and, of course, overall to the Province of Nova Scotia.



That has not changed. Over the past three or four years in particular, the fishing industry in Nova Scotia has been hit extremely hard as a result of the devastating impact in the reduction of stocks, particularly in the groundfish. The Georges fishery is very valuable in terms of the number of the variety of species that are available, and there is a considerable amount of income that is realized from the fishing that goes on there and it plays even a more integral role in providing income for Nova Scotia and for Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. It is incumbent upon us here in this House, and all Nova Scotians, to ensure that that is not changed. We are working actively here in this House, and the Minister of Fisheries and other MLAs who are involved with the fishing industry are working very desperately at trying to come up with management strategies that prevent the kind of overfishing that has led to the depletion of the groundfish stocks.



We are trying to ensure that all types of fishing is done in a manner, including gear types and in terms of effort, that protects not only the industry, but the communities that survived as a result of the industry, Mr. Speaker. It is incumbent upon us to consider what is happening with respect to this moratorium. I appreciate the member for Queens having brought this issue forward, because I think that we have to revisit this issue in light of everything that is happening in this province and in this country in order to ensure that we send a very clear message to Ottawa that, in Nova Scotia, we are not prepared to jeopardize a very rich, economically, and a very rich historic lifestyle and way of making a dollar that has fared us well for so many years. We are not prepared to jeopardize that as a result of multinational companies coming in here on the basis of speculation for the benefits of a fossil fuel.



Fossil fuels, Mr. Speaker, at the present time, are not in any shortage around the world; in fact, there are deposits that remain undeveloped in parts of the world. At the present time, we are certainly not suffering from any shortage of supply, so I think it is an important question that we should consider that that being the case, given how important Georges Bank is to the economy of Nova Scotia, to the livelihood of so many communities in this province, given the evidence over the years that this type of invasion to the ecosystem, the invasion of oil exploration and development, we should send a message, I think.



I think that is what is being done here, what is being proposed by the member for Queens, send a message to Ottawa that we want to see the moratorium that has been in existence since 1988 extended. We do not want this valuable resource and this valuable ecosystem jeopardized in any way, shape or form by multinational corporations that have decided that they want to stick a drill in the ground here off Nova Scotia to explore or maybe to expend some federally taxed development dollars. That is not in the interest of Nova Scotia, I believe, and that is something that we should consider.



Let us not believe we are being saved, that the salvation for our concerns rest in this committee. I remind the Minister of Natural Resources and I remind all members of this House that it was the fishing industry that wanted to see that review committee that has been designated, that will get started in January. They wanted to see that committee be established at five members because they were concerned that any less than that and there would not be a good enough opportunity for them to have influence, for them to have input in the processes of the review. They are concerned that because it is three they will not have that kind of input. I think it is important that we understand that and it is important that we consider that and let's not just simply say here in this House that because there is a three person committee that is reviewing it, that our concerns are going to be addressed.



We have a responsibility here in this House when we think that there are matters under discussion that are going to impact on our economy, on our environment, on our way of living, that we need to send a clear message to the federal government and, for that matter, to this panel that will be reviewing the issue.



Some people, perhaps more skeptical than I, but those people who will be directly affected if any exploration or development occurs, from the fishing industry, are concerned that, under the current political situation, if somebody comes along that is supposedly unbiased on this committee - because that was one of the requirements for having representation on the committee - if one these unbiased panellists provide some kind of information that suggests that technology is so advanced today that we are going to be able to drill on Georges Banks without it affecting the fishing industry, they will not have the opportunity to have any input into that and won't be able to stop that. I think that is a legitimate concern.



It is not unlike the argument with respect to uranium exploration and mining, that says that we have the technology now that will contain the adverse effects. I think any thinking person would review the research and have to acknowledge the fact that the technology is absolutely and completely untested, as in the case here. I think we have an obligation and I want to indicate to the member for Queens and the Minister of Natural Resources that I support the issue here, I support the idea of extending the moratorium on exploration and drilling on Georges Banks. I think it is critical that at a time like this, when the industry is suffering from the shocks that it has taken over the past number of years, that we ensure the sanctity of this area, of this ecosystem, of this economic system that is so important to the livelihood of so many people, so many communities and to the very economic base of the Province of Nova Scotia.



[4:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 50.



Bill No. 50 - Municipal Elections Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on this bill today because I think it is very timely and I think it is very important. This bill was introduced with some degree of haste, and with that in mind, we didn't do as much consulting with some of the people as we would have liked to have done. I don't think anybody in this House could sensibly argue with the principle of the bill. The principle of this bill is very simple; it is disclosure. This bill entitled, Bill No. 50, Amendments to the Municipal Elections Act, will amend the Municipal Elections Act so that all future candidates for municipal office will have to follow disclosure rules similar to those followed by candidates in a provincial election.



This bill will require each candidate in a municipal election to file an election expense report with the returning officer. Not something out of the ordinary, and something that each member of this Assembly did in 1993 and they did in elections previously. This was not at the request of the candidates who ran in 1993, this was a bill that was placed there by an independent review commission without input from elected officials. It would not be entirely proper for elected officials to draw up their own disclosure rules and regulations. This bill will also enable the public to examine election expense reports filed by candidates. This, certainly, is something that I don't think any member of this House is going to argue with either.



We have seen many discussions in the media lately concerning disclosure and public examination. This will require the returning officer to publish in a newspaper a summary of each election expense report filed with the returning officer. That is similar to what happens now in a provincial general election. It will require each candidate in a municipal election to file a report of political contributions received by that candidate with the designated persons under the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. It will enable the public to examine reports of political contributions filed with the designated person.



Now this is not earthshaking legislation. This isn't anything that is foreign to Nova Scotia but it is absolutely necessary that it take place now. It should have taken place in the legislation that the minister presented to the Chamber and presented to the metro amalgamation. It should have taken place before the minister presented the amalgamation in Cape Breton. It did not. We tabled the legislation last Friday in some haste because we wanted the amendments to be tabled while there was still a great interest in disclosure considering that we were having an election in Nova Scotia where three candidates were appealing to over 200,000 citizens to vote. There are very few elections, certainly nobody in this Chamber has ever appealed to 300,000 people. Most candidates try to campaign - anywhere from 6,000 to 20,000 is the norm - and the average should be about 18,000 people.



But we had an extraordinary election for mayor. One candidate indicated he was going to spend in excess of $200,000; another indicated he would be close to $100,000, with absolutely no disclosure. Now, Mr. Speaker, really and truly, the minister should have foreseen that this was going to be a problem. Why the minister didn't present it is anybody's guess, or perhaps some people actually know. Now I am sure the minister will indicate that the minister couldn't do it because the department and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities are very busy currently working on an agreeable situation for disclosure for the UNSM to be acceptable and to the government.



That is fine. That is a great excuse but it certainly is not a reason. So we must proceed with disclosure so that never again do we have an election where there are no limits on spending, no guidelines for collecting and absolutely no disclosure. As Nova Scotians in all walks of life will tell you, there should have been disclosure in this Halifax metro election. Now perhaps nobody in the Department of Municipal Affairs thought or realized that it would become the issue that it became during the election this trip. But even with that, we must realize that we have a problem and we must find a solution.



Perhaps this legislation isn't absolutely perfect, maybe it would need an amendment. One of the difficult things about legislation such as this is that it should be all-encompassing on municipal politicians, whether they are seeking to be elected by 300,000 in the metro region and are going to represent those people, or they are running for office in the smallest town in Nova Scotia, perhaps like Annapolis Royal, with less than 1,000 people in the town. The guidelines and the rules may seem a bit oppressive and excessive for a small municipal election, where there are only 900 people and probably the candidate is going to finance his own campaign. He will knock on the doors, he will put an ad in the paper and he will probably spend a couple of hundred dollars. That is great and that is marvellous but that is not an excuse that this government can use to get out of its responsibility of making sure that disclosure takes place.



We had every columnist in Nova Scotia writing during this campaign in Halifax. It really touched the minds and the thoughts and the integrity of people. Steven Kimber wrote that disclosure is important, disclosure or hiding behind the lack of rules. This election in metro also brought to light rumours. Who is behind the lush budget campaigns for mayor? That was from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. But in the same article it indicated that the President of the Halifax Homeowners Association wants to know who is paying. It also indicated that Randy Ball, one of the candidates, asked the provincial government in May to enact legislation requiring full disclosure of financial backers. Now that was one of the candidates who spent a great deal of money, some of it other people's money, who asked in May.



Now we requested that the Legislative Counsel office prepare this legislation that we tabled last Friday. Within two weeks the legislation was prepared. Last May, the Mayor of Halifax County asked for similar legislation and it never ever arrived. It could have arrived, it could have been enacted and all the suspicions that people had and have and still have and always will have could have been avoided. It is just better for the candidates because, Mr. Speaker, you and I both know that most people are honest, most people are doing the right thing and most people are running for office for the reason that they want to help others.



We should not do anything that says to the candidates and says to Nova Scotians that we are putting people in a bad situation or allowing them to exist in a bad light. Don't let the small formality like provincial legislation hold you back. That was an editorial from the Chronicle-Herald. The Chronicle-Herald editorial said just because the legislation is not there, let's have disclosure anyway.



Well, the candidates - and I can understand their point - said, look, we raised money and there are people that gave money but perhaps if they knew I was going to publish their name, they would not. I can certainly understand that. There were many times in my campaigns that people said to me, if you don't tell anybody, I will give you $20 and I said, I am sorry and so they do not and I can understand why. Even the business editor for the Chronicle-Herald indicates that it is a crock. Candidates are just covering their butts. He wanted candidates to fully disclose without the legislation, as well.



But why didn't this government enact that legislation? It is different when you have amalgamation and you have people appealing to the biggest mess of constituents. If it requires that you, Mr. Speaker, representing 20,000 people, file all the papers, why not the Mayor of Halifax, who is representing 300,000 people? It does not make sense. The councillors in the metropolitan region are representing more people, in some cases, than MLAs sitting in this Chamber. There is no disclosure and no request for disclosure. It should be there and they want it. They asked the minister to bring it in and the refusal was there. It begs the question, why? The minister can say, well, I want to wait and work with the UNSM and make sure they like the legislation.



Mr. Speaker, I have to ask you, was there anytime in the last two and one-half years this minister and this government paid one hoot or iota to what the UNSM wanted or did not want. They forced amalgamation in Cape Breton. They forced amalgamation in Halifax. We have got the QE II. It goes on and on. They never, ever consulted, but now the minister will stand in her place and say, well I cannot bring in legislation because we are waiting for consultation with the UNSM. I say to that, poppycock. The minister brought in the bills. She could have, if she had wanted, included disclosure.



I feel the minister is duty bound to tell this House and Nova Scotia what advantage it was to this government not to have disclosure. It was this government, under this minister and the Premier, who decided no disclosure in Nova Scotia. It was not the candidates who ran in metropolitan Halifax, it was the minister and the Premier that decided it, nobody else. So it is squarely on the shoulders of this government to indicate why this has not been there.



People are hollering shame. Shame they were saying when the candidates in metro indicated they would not disclose. They could not disclose. They raised their money from people who did not want their names written down. To change the rules halfway through and say, well I am going to tell your bank manager, I am going to tell your wife and your friends that you gave me money. Well, I can understand the feeling why they could not disclose after the fact. But it was this government's fault that they couldn't. There was ample time since last May when Randy Ball demanded legislation and nothing happened.



Well, you know Steven Kimber wrote another editorial complaining about this government's inactivity and the need for disclosure. It goes on and on and I look forward to the debate continuing on this legislation. I know we are going to hear some very insightful discussion from the minister and I am sure that the minister will indicate her willingness and her wanting to cooperate and to listen. Thank you.



[5:00 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I must say the honourable member did a great job of backtracking. I am just absolutely amazed on how many tracks he is trying to cover up in his 15 minutes that he has here today on this bill. Do you know why? That member has called on me to consult for the past two and one-half years. He constantly tells me I don't consult; now he is saying today that I am going to stand up and say, because I am consulting is why I couldn't do this. That is backtracking, big time. Do you know even more why he is backtracking? He got a letter today, and I have a copy of that letter from the President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and the Union said that they cannot support this legislation because you have not taken the time to bother to consult with us.



I am not surprised he is backtracking because he found out today that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Department of Municipal Affairs are working on a bill, are working on bringing something forward on disclosure, as I have said all along, every time I have been asked. As he says, he rushed in a little fast and maybe it is not exactly what it should be and maybe it is not this and maybe it is not that, and do you know why? It's because he didn't do any consulting. He introduced a bill that the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities can't support.



SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame.



MS. JOLLY: Further to that, they told him that the bill that he did introduce is too complicated. It put forward a system that is going to be very costly to process for the people that would be running in an election and it puts forward a number of things that they are just not comfortable with and that is where consultation comes in. So he has been made aware that the Union do not support this bill; and they are very upset that he would introduce this without consultation, after all of the discussion we have had on the floor of this House about this government consulting. So, I am not surprised that he is backtracking, big time, on this.



He also said in his remarks that it is not the elected official's job to draw this up. Well, if it is not the elected official's job to draw this up, to deal with their disclosure, who in the heck is supposed to do it? He said the elected official shouldn't be expected to do this. Well, if it isn't the elected official, I want to know whose job it is? He talks about taking responsibility. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Department of Municipal Affairs have taken responsibility on this.





What we have done to date - which the honourable member hasn't even taken into consideration - is that there has been discussion there has been a committee appointed with members from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Association of Municipal Administrators, to look at all legislation, to do that consulting, to establish a process in order for this to be followed through and to work towards. That is the way it should be done and that is the way it is currently being done.



Over the summer, there was a survey sent out to the municipalities to get input from them, to ask them how they think it should be dealt with. Back in 1991, there was discussion with the municipalities and the municipalities came forward and said that there wasn't enough support or interest among the units to do anything at that time, but because of the amalgamations, I had put out and requested that the UNSM go back to their members again and have some discussion on it, which they did in the summer; they did a survey. The survey looked at three key aspects: limiting the amount of spending by candidates on campaign expenses; providing for disclosure of contributions received . . .



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: A question, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the minister and her discussion but there are two questions that have not been answered at all in her address. The first one is suddenly, on disclosure, the minister decides that it must be consulted on with the UNSM, for the first time she consulted and the second thing is, why does this minister not want to have public disclosure for municipal elections? That is the question; that is the legislation we are debating. We are not debating consultation or anything else. We want to know, why does this minister not include disclosure?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, he obviously is not listening. I have answered questions in the House and in the press, and even from the clippings he read from today that I support disclosure. We have said from the very beginning, the Department of Municipal Affairs supports disclosure, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities supports disclosure and what we are in the process of doing (Interruption). Well, that is exactly what we doing. We are putting together a piece of legislation that will deal with the issue. As the honourable member said, maybe he rushed a little too quickly. It doesn't exactly say that it should; it doesn't conform with certain things he thinks maybe it should, but he rushed it through. That is exactly what we are not doing. This is a very important piece. The Department of Municipal Affairs has supported disclosure from the very beginning and we are in the process of putting it together. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, we have done it through a process and I think it is important, that process. If he even bothered to go to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities' annual meeting, if any of them bothered to go there and sit and listen to the municipalities, they would have heard that this was discussed.



There was a report on disclosure made to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities by this review committee. They dealt with it then and they brought forward a number of areas that should be reviewed and considered. So, there is support for disclosure with the Department of Municipal Affairs, with this government and with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. But we are doing it on a consultative process, which this member has continually been after me about doing. So, I am not surprised that he is backtracking big-time in his speech here today.



Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we have a committee that is set up and has been reviewing disclosure. They made a presentation in October to the full executive and to the members of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. The response to that report indicated a general support for disclosure of campaign contributions and - surprise to this member - some suggestions on how it might be implemented, suggestions from the whole membership of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities on how this might be brought forward.



If he had been at the meeting, he would have known that. If he had talked to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities' executive, he would have known that. If he had even talked to the president and asked a question of the president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, he would have known that. But, no, he talked to no one. He developed a bill, threw it in, and now has decided he has rushed and maybe he should be backtracking on it.



Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, there was a survey done, the committee had meetings and the committee has come forward with some recommendations. I will outline some of those recommendations for the honourable member so he will know. I would hate for him to go out of this debate not knowing what the committee that is discussing this is recommending with regard to disclosure in a piece of legislation that will be brought forward. (Interruptions) The honourable member for Kings West wants to know who is on the committee.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken about this committee at least 10 times in Question Period. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is on the committee, the Association of Municipal Advisors is on the committee, the Department of Municipal Affairs is on the committee. There are probably, I would say, 8, 9 or 10 people on this committee dealing with (Interruption) The people on the committee are the people that are responsible to work in the municipality. Some of them are elected, some of them are staff from the Department of Municipal Affairs.



Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I want to give the honourable members opposite an idea of what the committee recommended: that campaign contributions of money, services and goods over $100 be disclosed; that disclosure be made by the official agent, or by the candidate if there is no official agent; that anonymous donations be prohibited; that a candidate who fails to file a return would be suspended from sitting or running for municipal office again until the return is filed; and it would be an offence to file a false return and not to file a return. Those are some of the recommendations by the committee as to what should be in this piece of legislation.



The Municipal Elections Act, which is one of the things that this bill cites, does not require that a candidate have an official agent. One of the reasons that is the case, Mr. Speaker, the intention is to keep the process simple so as not to discourage people from running. That is extremely important in municipal elections. I don't think there is any question that provincially or federally we have a certain size of riding. In the Province of Nova Scotia, there are some ridings that only have 200, 300 or 400 people. Some of them are very small. One of the members says, not for long. This legislation has to deal with what is here now. We do have ridings that have a small number of people, so it is important that we do keep the process simple so that we do not discourage people from running. That is extremely important, Mr. Speaker.





The committee's view is that these proposals, the ones that they have put forward, will produce public disclosure without imposing an excessive burden on those who wish to run for elected municipal office. That is very important to us when we are developing a bill for disclosure. It is important that we allow as many people as possible to run in municipal elections and that we do not create a paper system that discourages people from running.



I want to move into the bill just a little bit, to talk about what the member says and why he is backtracking because he has now heard from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities that they do not agree with bill that he has put forward. Clause 1, amending Subsection 44(8) of the Municipal Elections Act and Clause 2, amending Section 70 of the Municipal Elections Act would require each candidate to have an official agent. This legislation would require an official agent. The committee did not agree that this should be mandatory since it complicates the municipal election process and while many candidates do have an official agent, some do not. The committee felt that there should be an option that the candidate, themselves, under a disclosure of rules and regulations and procedures should be able to put forward that information.



As we heard, even in this great big Halifax election, there were a few candidates, the only people that contributed was themselves. Are they going to bribe themselves to make a decision on something? Some of them only contributed themselves, so why would they need an official agent in order to go through the disclosure? Why would they have to hire somebody in order to do that? That is one of the things that there is a difference at.



On Clause 3, Section 143F, it requires that the official agent file the expense report which the returning officer then publishes in some form. One of the things they talked about was having to have this published in the newspaper. Who is going to pay to have this all published in the newspaper? The official agent? Is the official agent going to have a budget to publish this in the newspaper? The committee noted that the returning officer is not usually in the municipality's employ after the election is over and that the municipal clerk should be given that authority. We have a clerk in the municipality that could quite easily handle that aspect.



One of the other things that they suggested in the bill, that the honourable member is now backtracking on, is that Clause 3, Section 143L requires that an auditor must report in the form. An auditor must report in the form, of which maybe you were the only person that made contributions to your election campaign. The committee did not see any purpose for involving of the auditor since the records are being kept in a simple nature because we want as many people as possible to feel that they have the opportunity to run in municipal politics. It is a very grassroot level of politics and it is very important.



Two final points that I would make, Clause 3, Section 140Q prohibits anonymous donations and provides that if any are paid, that they go to the Minister of Finance. He wants the municipal election, if there is anonymous donations, to be turned over to the Minister of Finance. Well, the municipality would certainly be very upset if he thought that a municipal contribution to a municipal election was going to be turned over to the Minister of Finance of the province. Surely, if he had done his work on this piece of legislation, he would suggest it be turned over the municipalities and that is certainly what the municipalities have suggested.





So, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can say all he likes that the government did not bring this bill in in time and did not do what he thought was an appropriate job. The bill that he has brought in makes it very confusing, it could make it very expensive and he even wants the member to put any anonymous donations, which are unacceptable, to go to the Minister of Finance.



All I can tell him is that, just so he knows, the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities are working on a bill. We are doing it with a process. We are doing it in consultation, which this member continually tells me I have to do, and it will be a darn good piece of legislation that will be well supported. (Applause)



[5:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I stand up, I keep thinking I should be saying, be still my heart, because the minister just allayed all my fears and all my concerns. Yes, indeed. I seem to get the same message today from the minister that you hear from so many of her colleagues. (Interruption) What an indictment upon all the others.



The minister is saying, trust us, Mr. Speaker. What we did not have - let's be straight and up-front about it - I heard the minister and I have taken a look at this bill and I know what was done with this bill. What was in our legislation was copied over and made that to apply to municipal units. Yes, there would have to be some jigging and some changes to make one coat fit the other, but the principle is there as to what needs to be done. What I did not hear the minister make was a firm commitment that there will be legislation introduced by the government, whether this minister is Minister of Municipal Affairs or some other colleague, but that there will be legislation introduced to provide for full and proper disclosure at municipal campaigns before the next elections are going to take place.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Obviously, the honourable member was not listening to my final remarks and to my initial remarks which say we support disclosure. We are in the process of putting a bill together and the bill will be coming forward. That is what I said in the beginning and that is what I said at the end. If the member would listen and try not to misrepresent the truth, it would be a little easier.



MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that assurance really warms me too. I note that her colleague has legislation prepared to introduce as well to restrict smoking in public places. That has not made its way to the floor of the House yet because, obviously, there is not a commitment from the colleagues to have that legislation introduced.



The minister said that she is working on something. Isn't that great. The minister stood in her place today, on the floor, and said, we have to make sure that we do not do anything that could interfere with people running and seeking political office at the municipal level. We cannot do anything to interfere with that. So, Mr. Speaker, she pointed out that we have to deal with what the realities are now and we have a number of very small municipal units, some with only a few hundred voters, so a proper process like this would not be appropriate. Well, where would it have been appropriate?



One place would have been in the Municipal Amalgamation Bill that passed through this House not too many days ago, but when the proposition was placed before this House and with this minister, lo and behold!, the government voted it down. That, Mr. Speaker, would have put in place proper disclosure procedures for elections that are going to be taken place in these new super municipalities that the province envisions across Nova Scotia. The same propositions were voted down by the Liberal Government on the Cape Breton Amalgamation Bill and the Halifax County Regional Municipal Amalgamation Bill.



Now we hear there are consultations. Isn't this wonderful. The consultations on the amalgamation bill took place after the bill was introduced. The government told them we are doing this at the UNSM conference and after the bill was introduced then we will talk to you about it. Well, you know, it is interesting that they will amalgamate all these municipal units and put this legislation together without consultation. But when it comes to putting in place what the citizens of this province are demanding, it is not only the editorial writers. You don't have to be an Einstein when you drive down the road and you see all these huge billboards and you see these expensive adds in the newspapers, on television and so on, that they cost big bucks; big dollars, possibly, a $200,000 or more campaign in one situation. How many more?



I invite the minister to stand and to say that before the end of this session, which will be going undoubtedly well into 1996, or if she is not able to do it - she is understaffed and she is now engaged in broad-ranging consultations, it is a very complicated piece of legislation - guarantee that in the spring session at the latest, a bill will be introduced on the floor of this House that will provide for the basics; one, full disclosure of political contributions and I would say in excess of $50. I am not hung up on whether it is $50 or $100, but I would say $50. That is what we live under in this House and I don't think that is too restrictive.



I would suggest that any political contribution that is made anonymously would return, not to the Minister of Finance, but it would return to the municipal unit.



AN HON. MEMBER: I'm glad you agree on that.



MR. HOLM: I do agree on that.



I would also say, Mr. Speaker, that every single candidate should have to disclose that information and that that should be disclosed publicly and it should have to be audited. I agree, it should have to be audited. That audit can be done by an individual auditor hired by that candidate or it could be done as an audit by an auditor provided by the municipal unit. There are all kinds of ways that these things can be done if we are truly committed to the principle of openness and accountability. It is not that complicated. We are hearing it is expensive. Wow.



My riding has as many voters as the municipal unit which is the largest one now in the Province of Nova Scotia, the one which, of course, the minister is still not prepared to give that new council the powers to make and be able to oversee decisions that are going to be going on between now and April which could involve billions of dollars worth of expenditures, but that having been said, we are hearing from some government members that this kind of a disclosure process is expensive. There are as many voters in my constituency as in any of those areas where councillors just ran for office. Mr. Speaker, the cost was not great.



If somebody is running for council, it was said by the minister, well maybe, he or she is the only person who contributes to the campaign, that whoever this person is, who is seeking political office, they have funded it all out of their own pocket. Well, fine, if I contribute to my campaign, it is disclosed. And I do contribute to my campaign and it is disclosed.



AN HON. MEMBER: What's wrong with that?



MR. HOLM: I don't understand what's wrong with that. So what is the problem? I can't help but think that what we have happening here, is that now the minister is engaged in some kind of convoluted, long delaying tactics in terms of consultations with the UNSM, with her department and the administrators when she is saying that everybody agrees to these principles, to establish a process, oh, we are establishing a process. We don't want a process, Mr. Speaker, what we want is action. We want legislation. We want to see a commitment being made with clear time lines that will ensure that there will be this disclosure. (Interruption)



The minister is afraid that I will try to hoist her bill for six months. If the minister brings in a piece of legislation that provides for full and proper disclosure of contributions, I will make the pledge here and now that I will stand up and speak for no more than two minutes, at which time I will sing the praises of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and this government for finally doing something right. (Applause) Wouldn't that be a wonderful treat, to actually have the opportunity to stand up and applaud the government?



Here we get consultation when they do not want to do something. When it means trying to solve a threatened strike in the health care field, when these kinds of issues are at stake, can they consult? No, but you know when they do not want to do something, to use the government's and the minister's own words, they sure know how to backtrack.



Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely ridiculous. When you have these kinds of expenditures taking place, it is doing a tremendous disservice to the men and to the women who sought political office. Those men and women who are going to be making decisions in their new offices as councillors, mayors and wardens across this province are constantly being left open to questions. If you have awarded a contract to this company or that company, I wonder, did they contribute to your campaign? The question, if somebody is hired, or if a re-zoning application comes forward from this developer or that developer and some councillors speak in support of it, why did you do that? Oh, they must have contributed to your campaign, opponents will say. What an unfair situation to leave those councillors in. That is absolutely obscene.



You know, if there is disclosure of political contributions, those kinds of accusations cannot be made. We have full disclosure in this House for a good reason. I have not heard a single member in this House say, maybe what we should do is set up a process to try to talk to somebody to see if we should maybe change the rules to end the disclosure of contributions that are going on to political campaigns at the present time. Haven't heard that, Mr. Speaker. What is the difference? It is a matter of trust. It is a matter of accountability.



Mr. Speaker, when you take a look at the cynicism, the way in which people look at politicians today, I would suggest that we are doing a tremendous disservice not to put in place proper rules and procedures. This bill is not going to pass. This bill when it is introduced on an Opposition Day cannot pass. It cannot be voted on unless there is unanimous consent. The purpose in bringing the bill before this House today is to spark debate and discussion.



MR. SPEAKER: There are 30 seconds left.



MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So it will be a very short remaining discussion on my part.



Despite her standing up and saying, I have made commitments, the minister later on will be able to stand up, when people ask her why she has not brought something forward, to say, well if you read what I had to say, I promised to set in place a process; I did not promise to introduce legislation that would address the fundamental issues.



Mr. Speaker, that is what Nova Scotians want. It does not matter which part of the province you live in. They want to know that the political contributions are open and above board and transparent so that any questions of impropriety can in fact be addressed very simply and very easily.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



[5:30 p.m.]



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my friend to my left, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, said that he would sing the praises of the government if they brought this legislation forward. (Interruption) Well, that is what my problem is.



There have been other groups that have met with this government and trusted them. But when the legislation came out, it was not what they promised. I would have to see the legislation because I, like many workers in this province, do not trust this government any more. They do not trust the government because they have been misled by the government, just like the workers of the hospitals have been misled by this government.



I cannot imagine anybody (Interruption). I can tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, whoever is yakking over there, has not been elected here as many times as I have. So if you have something to say stand up. There is only one guy over there that can stand up and that is the Minister of Labour. The rest of you have not been in this House.



Let me say this, Mr. Speaker, I cannot imagine anybody not supporting this kind of legislation. Look, there may be some fundamental changes that have to be made. When the Minister of Education introduced a bill, it had 200 amendments.



AN HON. MEMBER: Over 200.



MR. MOODY: Over 200. So maybe the bill needs a few small changes, but surely it would not need 200 changes before we had proper legislation. You know, the Minister of Municipal Affairs says, I have got a committee and we are going to involve the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and her department. Did we involve this Legislature when legislation was put together for us on disclosure? Of course not. We would have a conflict of interest, Mr. Speaker. This legislation was put together by an outside group, which we passed.



Surely to Heavens we can understand that this legislation should be at arm's length from people who are involved in running for election. In my constituency, Mr. Speaker, I have to have an official agent. I have to have everything disclosed. I cannot spend $200,000 on my election like Randy Ball did. Maybe Randy Ball would not have lost if it had not been for the campaign whisper that he was not disclosing because Liberal trust fund money was going into that campaign.



MR. SPEAKER: Order. I want to point out that we have a rule in this House about casting aspersions on the reputations of persons within or without the House. In my view, what I have just heard cast aspersion on the reputation of Mr. Ball.



MR. MOODY: I am not casting any aspersions on Mr. Ball. I will not do that. But, Mr. Speaker, I am telling you that unless we have disclosure, there is going to be things cast on all of us. If we do not have disclosure for those who run for municipal elections, there is going to be aspersions cast on every one of them, not by us, but by many people and everyone knows that.



If this government has so much legislation that it is so unimportant that we do not have disclosure for those running for these large super-cities, we do not allow disclosure, I cannot imagine what kind of planning goes into anything by this government and not recognizing the fact that if we are going to make sure that the general public have faith in the elections that are held and have faith in what is being spent, what is being collected, then we have to have legislation.



If anyone can stand up here today and deny the fact that the public do not have the right to know who contributes to campaigns and what campaign money is spent on, I would like to hear from them. There is absolutely no question. We say that politicians and many others are distrusted by the public. They are distrusted by the public because we are seen as covering up continually, trying to make it impossible for the general public to know exactly where money is being collected and where money is being spent. If we are going to bring back any kind of a reputation to any elected officials, then we have to be up front with the general public right from day one.



This legislation is taken from the Act that we fall under. Yes, there may have to be some changes that would have to be adapted to those who run at the municipal level. But I cannot imagine, Mr. Speaker, anybody running for an elected office at the municipal level. The way it is going nowadays with the larger municipal units, and many of those people represent more people than I do. Many of those people are now spending more money than I am allowed to spend on my election. So if we think it is right for us and I suspect we all do, why isn't it right for them?



The minister has said she is working on legislation. Well, I would like to know why the government has time for all kinds of other legislation but that this one is not important. The minister has said that this committee is about to report . . .



MS. JOLLY: Has reported.



MR. MOODY: Has reported. Well, I hope that we will see this legislation some time this session. We are going to be here for a few weeks, as I understand it. There is lots of time for this government to bring in the legislation. I will stay tuned and when the minister brings it in . . .



AN HON. MEMBER; We have lots of time. We are here until February.





MR. MOODY: I don't have any place to go, as I am sure you don't and if the government wants to stay, I will be perfectly willing to stay as long as they want to stay, I don't have any trouble with that. Every day we are in here, it gives me an opportunity to bring out some of the issues that I think this government is not dealing with.



Getting back to the minister and bringing in the legislation, I think the minister, in her heart, seriously understands this kind of legislation needs to be brought in, I seriously believe that. She said that and I acknowledge that. What I am upset about is that it is taking longer than I would have hoped to see this kind of legislation. I will support this kind of legislation, obviously, I will want to read it but I will support it. I doubt if there would be anyone in this Legislature who would not support it. I hope though that the minister makes sure that in this legislation, I mean if we are talking about $100 that she was talking about, we are at $50 in where we are in our legislation, why wouldn't it be $50 for them? I don't understand why we are raising . . .



MS. JOLLY: That is why you have to have some discussion.



MR. MOODY: Well, that is why we have to have some discussion. I am making some input now and I hope there is more discussion that will take place.



Truly, I want to be helpful in reaching what the minister says is a goal and I think all Parties see as a goal. I truly believe that the minister would not be condemned by anyone for bringing in this legislation. There may be some arguments about whether they need an official agent. I happen to believe that there should be an accounting by somebody that is responsible and I have to say . . .



MS. JOLLY: What about the clerk of the municipality?



MR. MOODY: Well, you can't have the clerk being the agent for everyone there. I think that if people had an official agent and I don't believe there is anybody that doesn't run for municipal office who doesn't have a friend, I believe we all have friends. I am sure that somebody would take on the responsibility of being the official agent because as you are campaigning, you get very busy. Your job, as a good campaigner, as you are, Mr. Speaker, you go door to door. That is what these other people do from daylight to dark and they are working long hours.



Wouldn't it be nice to have somebody, we don't have to worry about that because we have an official agent, wouldn't it be nice if they had somebody who would keep track of that funding and those details for them because people get so busy they could kind of forget. That is not their fault, that is part of the system. So I would hope that the minister, even though she wasn't in favour of an official agent, would consider some method whereby the candidates themselves didn't have to make sure that they kept track of all of the people who donated, all of the expenses that are spent out, that somebody they could designate could do that for them. I think it would work better than that person themselves being responsible for that. So I hope the minister will consider that aspect.



Maybe you don't want to call them an official agent, call them whatever you like. I think that what the minister is acknowledging, I think what we are seeing happening is, if the minister is correct we are going to see more amalgamations, I assume. If we assume that, we are not going to have very many candidates that are elected anymore in the small areas as we have known in the past. There will be some, but as I understand it, over a period of time, they will disappear mostly, I would think. If this amalgamation works out like the government says, and I believe down the road, hopefully it will, where there will be savings for the taxpayer, then why wouldn't people amalgamate? That is the basic, bottom line. So as we get into larger units, I hope that the minister will consider that.



I think here would be an opportunity and I am hoping in the legislation that the minister is going to bring forward - I expect the Clerk might end up being the returning officer and I don't have any difficulty with that, that's fine - that the public can have a chance to go in and view, after the election, what the expenses were and who contributed. We know that happens to us and there is a list on file. I think that what that does is it makes everybody more careful and there is none of this anonymous giving. Mr. Speaker, I always had trouble with anonymous giving because it is bad for us to take it anyway because somebody comes along later and says, I gave you that. There could be 10 people come along and tell me they gave that amount of money. How would I know? If somebody gave $1,000 and it was anonymous and then I have four or five people saying, well, you know that $1,000, George, I kind of contributed that to your campaign. Now I need a little help here.



I don't have any trouble with the money going back to the municipal units, to charity or something, if it is over the amount and it is anonymously given. I think the day of people giving anonymously has gone by the boards, that we have to be open, we have to make sure that the public understand that we are open and that everything is above-board.



I think, also, we need a maximum limit on what candidates can spend. It was ridiculous in metro here when we heard that candidates - and I don't want to name anybody, I don't want to get in trouble - spent up to $200,000. I don't know if that is true and maybe I shouldn't repeat it, but I think it has been said in the press that people did spend up to $200,000. That is a lot of money. When I come into Halifax and see big billboards with the candidates on them, all the ads, the newspaper ads, and I know how much it costs to run an election, and you do too, Mr. Speaker, and boy oh boy, you don't buy that space and all of those ads for nothing. It is very expensive. So I think the minister would have to include a reasonable limit, like what is on ourselves, for candidates to spend because she said earlier we want to make this process open to everyone. We don't want to confuse it.



Well, if you don't put limits on it, you are not going to open it to everybody because the poor person who doesn't have the means, cannot get elected over somebody who has a lot of money, who could go out and buy their way into office by doing all the ads and all the other personal contacts. So if the minister means what she says, she will make sure that the limit that is allowed to be spent, will allow the average individual, whether they have a lot of money or not, to put their name forward to get elected. That is a very important point and one that I hope we will keep in mind when we pass legislation.



We are not going to be able to vote on this. I know that the Queens merger is the next merger that is going to happen, I assume. That is my assumption, that it will happen. We have the legislation; I assume it will be not far down the road. I would hope the minister would give consideration to having legislation in place by then. I think the longer we go, the more distrust is out there. I know that the House only sits certain parts of the year and all of that, but I would hope that the minister would give that timeframe some consideration before that happens.



So I want to say that I am in favour of disclosure, I am in favour of this bill. Obviously it is designed to fit us here, but it doesn't take very much imagination to redesign a bill to fit the municipal units based on the principle that we are based on, which should apply across this province. I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity.



[5:45 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The time allotted for the debate has expired.



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 68 and I so move on behalf of the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



H.O. No. 68, re Justice (Canada) - Gun Registration (Bill C-68): Corres. (Gov't.[Can.-N.S.]) - Provide - notice given Dec. 4/95 - (Mr. B. Taylor)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: That was House Order No. 68? In the absence of the Minister of Justice he has agreed to table this House Order.



MR. SPEAKER: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 67.



H.O. No. 67, re Environ.: E-911 Implementation Mgt. Team - Membership - notice given Dec. 4/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Again, on behalf of the Minister of the Environment, this House Order has four parts to it. The minister has agreed to supply the information for number one; number two, I think, has been circulated in the House here today; number three, however, he is not prepared to comply with this at this time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Government House Leader is correct, the minister did table some of that information this afternoon, which we appreciate very much. If they would just supply as much as they possibly could, we would be pleased with that.



MR. SPEAKER: With those conditions, is it the pleasure of the House that the House Order pass?



It is agreed.



House Order No. 67 is ordered returned.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: I am going to call a couple from the NDP since the Minister of Education is here. Would you please call House Order No. 56 and I so move in the absence of the honourable Leader of the NDP.



H.O. No. 56, re Educ.: Pre-School Orientation Prog. - Development (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: The House Order asks for "Details of all action taken in 1993, 1994 and 1995 to develop a Pre-School Orientation Program designed for children between the ages of four and five.". Would that refer to across all the boards?



First of all, I do not know if the honourable member is aware of it, that the Department of Community Services is responsible for students before they enter school. I do not think this is under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Education to provide such programming, although we have worked with inter-agency approaches to it. I really do not know what the honourable member wants.



MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps, the honourable minister could move that the House Order be stood.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am the mover of that House Order and what I am trying to gain is whatever involvement the Department of Education has had in trying to assist in the development of any such programs; not looking for what individual boards are doing, but any of the involvement that the department may have had through the inter-agency or any other process.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Well, Mr. Speaker, if I might, we have done many things individually, but I do not know if you could even find a paper trail. We would have to explore all our extension people, our program people, our special education people, APSEA, I do not think we could possibly track that down, so I will deny it.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, we have a motion before us. (Interruption) Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is denied.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 57.



H.O. No. 57, re Educ. - Funding: Walker Comm'n. - Compliance (1993 on) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Again, I do not know what exploration the honourable member is under. "Details of all steps taken since 1993 to comply with the Walker Commission's recommendation to fund education according to programs.". Education has basically been funded. We have a funding formula group who focuses their attention mainly on students and this group makes the recommendations to us.



We could give them the details of what the funding formula recommendations have been since 1993, if that would be helpful. That is where those recommendations come from and I might mention to all members that that involves the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the School Boards Association and members from the Department of Finance and the Department of Education. That is who makes recommendations to funding. If the honourable member wants it, it is a public record, but I can get it for him, if that is helpful.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, what it is also trying to get at, of course, is that the Walker Committee recommendations had to deal with the 90/10 split. That is what the government had talked of when they were seeking office. I am trying to find out what steps they have taken, if any, moving towards that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, with respect, that is not what he asked for. He asked for something completely different. What he has asked for is to fund education according to programs. That is something completely different than what he referred to. He has referred to whether the Department of Education would fund 100 per cent of education, which is another issue altogether. If he wants the reports of the funding formula committee, I would be pleased to give them to him. But, again, they are a matter of public record.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. This procedure is a little bit irregular, but I am allowing it.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just have to tell the minister, of course, that the House Orders are actually quotes that are taken directly from the Liberal education policy during the last election. So I was sure the minister would be very familiar with what they are, of course, saying.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, we have to come to a decision on this. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?



The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, I will deny it unless the honourable member wants the funding formula review people, because they make the recommendations. But if he wants that (Interruption) Okay. Otherwise, if he wants something else, I just do not have it, so I will deny it.



MR. SPEAKER: Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is denied.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: I will try one more for my friends to the left; they are batting zero. Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 58.



H.O. No. 58, re Educ.: School Bds. - Special Incentive Fund (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: I am at a loss here, but I will look at it again. ". . . to establish a `Special Incentive Fund' available to school boards `which meet and exceed provincial standards through innovative programs and projects which enhance and enrich the curriculum.'". Again, it is the same kind of exploration. I can tell him that we are working now to develop standards that did not exist before. We have programs and when those standards are there, the relationship between the Department of Education and the individual school boards allow for that. Again, the funding formula people, who include school boards and the Teachers Union, can express that. But up to this particular time, that has not been done because we are still working to develop those standards in conjunction with our departments. So the answer to it is that there is no answer to that House Order.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party to conclude the debate.



MR. JOHN HOLM: Again, what it is, it is just taking a section out of the Liberal education policy in terms of what was promised to be done and trying to get an update in terms of what they have actually done to honour those commitments that were made. I believe I already have the answer from the minister on that one.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to pass House Order No. 58. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is denied.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: I will leave the other education one on there, because I see it is going to be a no. I will try the Minister of Supply and Services.



AN HON. MEMBER: Do this one.



MR. MOODY: Do this one? Okay, let's call House Order No. 59, Mr. Speaker.



H.O. No. 59, re Educ.: Post-Secondary - Extra - Assistance Fund (1993-95) - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move.



MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



The honourable Minister of Education.



HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: I am honoured here, Mr. Speaker, because, in fact, we have poured a whole lot of money into the assistance fund and I will report this to the House. It is of the order that when we arrived and I am reaching back here, we were providing something of an assistance fund on the order $3 million. In fact, what we have provided in assistance is closer to $11 million to $12 million, but I will get the details for the honourable member so that we can provide it to the House.



MR. SPEAKER: Very well. The motion is passed by unanimous consensus.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Well, I guess patience does pay off. We will try one more, Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn. We will call House Order No. 60.



H.O. No. 60, re Supply and Serv. - Contracts: Pay Equity - Compliance - notice given Nov. 27/95 - (Mr. J. Holm)



MR. JOHN HOLM: I so move.



MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Supply and Services.



HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, if I understood that correctly, the honourable member is asking me to ensure that all companies doing business with the Province of Nova Scotia are following the pay. (Interruption) Well, I misunderstood it.



MR. SPEAKER: Here is a copy.



MR. O'MALLEY: Well that is what it sounds like to me, Mr. Speaker, as I thought, but maybe I am misreading it. I would like to stand it, and I will speak to the honourable member and get clarification of what he wishes. If we are able to fulfil it, we will gladly do so, but if it is what I think it is then it is absolutely impossible. We will stand it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: I would just try to provide some clarification, if I may, for the minister. The government has promised that they were going to be developing contract compliance rules for those companies doing business with the Province of Nova Scotia to ensure that those companies were following proper pay equity types of policies within their businesses, if they want to do business with the province and that they had proper employment practices, if it did, for example, employ members of visible minorities, women and so on. The government had promised, so I am just trying to find out what steps the government has taken to ensure that those businesses that are doing business with the Province of Nova Scotia are in fact following the kinds of policies and directives that this government said they were going to require.



MR. O'MALLEY: I thought it was read by the Clerk. I do not know if the honourable member realizes how many companies and businesses are doing contractual or any kind of work in concert with the Province of Nova Scotia, but it's literally thousands of companies and you are asking me to find out all of those companies, whether they are in compliance with minority rights. Well let's stand it. I want clarification.



MR. SPEAKER: It appears to be the consensus of the House that the House Order be stood.



I order the House Order No. 60 stood.



The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Opposition Business for the day.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion would be that the House do now rise.



The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.



MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the members of the House that we will sit tomorrow between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Following daily routine and Question Period, we will begin with Public Bills for Second Reading and Bill No. 55. I move that we adjourn until 12 noon tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12 noon.



The motion is carried.



We are entering the Adjournment debate. The winner of which was the honourable member for Yarmouth. His resolution reads:



"Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government continue its successful efforts to enhance Nova Scotia.".



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.



GOV'T. (N.S) - ENHANCE (N.S.): EFFORTS - CONTINUE



MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to debate the resolution before the House this evening. After over two years in the Legislature, we have a little better understanding of what to expect while the House is sitting. While we have accomplished much in the Legislature it often gives people a false impression of what we do as MLAs. Every day is filled with many personal issues.



The most unfortunate part of our legislative duties is that it keeps us away from the very pressing matters that the MLA can only understand by being in our communities. Only then can we know the pressing needs of our constituents. As we all know, true feedback must come from a regular interaction with all people from all walks of life.



I am not afraid of fair and well-formulated criticism, a healthy democracy requires it. A healthy democracy demands it of us. Some may be thinking, aren't you Liberals tired of all the healthy criticism of the past two years. Well, to some extent, I have felt tired on occasion. I have felt anger, and on some days, quite frankly, it has been extremely difficult. But when you know that you are doing the right thing, and that doing the right thing requires tough decisions, this is when I know it is all worth it. It is worth it because we carry the strength of our convictions. Most of all, we are determined to follow through on the reforms we have started.



[6:00 p.m.]



I am reminded of some of the reasons I ran for office in the first place. I think it is probably important that I go into some of these reasons. Mr. Speaker, I can't help but think back to the state of this province prior to 1993. The administration of the day had become tired, a little bored and, most of all cynical. Cynicism had been a trademark of the previous administration for the better part of its last two terms in office. There was no direction, and perhaps the worst wrong perpetuated by the last government was its inability to embrace change, and the change that lies ahead in the 21st Century.



Nova Scotia is not an island of isolation. The global changes taking place today affect each and every Nova Scotian. A province that lacks preparation for the forces of global change will be swamped by its negative effects. Thanks to the last government, we have had a lot of catching up to do. The first problem we have had to deal with, was our massive deficit. I am pleased that Finance Minister Bernie Boudreau has announced we will have a small operating surplus this year. A little over two years ago, our deficit was close to $0.5 billion. On top of the fiscal realities of the last two years, over the next three years, our government will have its transfers cut by $300 million from the federal government. Despite the fiscal situation, we are managing to cut spending while making significant progress to reform the way government is run.



When people hear of spending cuts, there is often an impression that we are cutting for the sake of cutting. There seems to be a misconception on the part of some that somehow we wish to punish the poor and reward the rich. That is a rather simplistic view. Not only is it simplistic, but it is simply untrue. We have reduced our deficit from $471 million, when we took office, to zero in less than two years. In that period of time, over 18,000 more Nova Scotians have a job today than did in 1993. The provincial unemployment rate has dropped from 14.5 per cent to 11.2 per cent in that same time period. The best way to deal with poverty is to help someone land employment so they can put food on the table from the work of their labours. Our recovery will not be made at the expense of those in society who are least able to defend themselves.



Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of our greatest concerns as politicians and as people is our health care system. I keep in good physical shape but, Heaven forbid, should my health fail, that an adequate system of health delivery was not in place. Universal, accessible Medicare is a sacred trust that cannot be broken and will not be broken by a Liberal Government. In the past, our health system has failed us in Nova Scotia. Health reform isn't about cutting; it is about efficiency. The system, as we know it, has not been an adequate one. Despite spending $1.3 billion on health, Nova Scotians are not healthy. Despite the fact that we had the largest number of hospital beds per population in the country, our health is below that of the rest of Canada.



The health system, as we know it, must change. We have to put people at the centre of the system and not buildings. Hospitals do not make us healthy. That is why the Department of Health is shifting its resources away from hospitals and into the community. Last spring's budget allocated $44 million for home care; that is double last year's level. As hospital services are streamlined, greater home care services are being made available.



The emergency health services are being improved through better training and better equipment. The government is buying 150 new ambulances for operators throughout Nova Scotia. The first ambulances have been delivered, including those in Yarmouth, of course. I need not tell you that these ambulances are built in Yarmouth by the people of Yarmouth.



Perhaps our greatest accomplishment will be the transfer of health decision-making from Halifax to the regional boards; this will ensure that local needs are considered when health care decisions are made.



Hospitals are playing a different role under the new health system. Regional hospitals, like the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, will be the medical centres for our area. I don't mind saying that the Yarmouth Regional Hospital has been a leader in regional health care and it will continue to be so. In recognition of this, our government has contributed a major portion of the $40 million made available to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital for its expansion and upgrade. The project could not have been launched without community efforts to raise some $8 million for the project. The new health care system will mean shorter patient stays in hospitals, leading to shorter waiting lists and better treatment.



Other innovative programs like telemedicine and mobile breast screening units will provide for better access to health care. Telemedicine is not far in the future and there is a pilot project underway in Guysborough and Sheet Harbour. The mobile breast screening unit will be in place in the western region in 1996. I am also very proud that our government is actively recruiting new doctors to come to Nova Scotia. We are the first government in this province to do so.



We still have work to do and it can't be done without the support of Nova Scotians. We have identified the problems and we are attempting to solve them, but we need a collective effort. Despite the impressive job creation effort, there is still a problem. Far too many people in Yarmouth County are without work and we must find solutions to this pressing problem. Part of that problem is maintaining some of our very important infrastructure and building on new ones. The private sector has to invest in the community, as does government. Our Community Business Loan Program has provided loan assistance to 16 Yarmouth County businesses, for a total of $276,000. This program has created 23 jobs, maintained 92 jobs and created 8 new businesses.



Another example of our investment in the future is the cooperative effort of all three levels of government and the private sector in the redevelopment of the Yarmouth waterfront. As a community, the Yarmouth waterfront is a testament to a past and a hint toward where our future lies. I am very pleased that our government has been able to provide $200,000 to this important project; not only does it provide a focal point for the community, but it can be a draw for tourists. The establishment of the industrial mall at the Domtex site has also been welcome news for our area. The $1.32 million project was launched in cooperation with the federal government.



Helping our seniors is a priority of our government in Yarmouth. The recent development of the $1 million seniors' complex on Parade Street has been a worthwhile project. As recently as November 27th, Community Services Minister James Smith was on hand to open the Hebron Residential Centre.



I am not saying that everything is perfect; I am not saying the future will be easy. Nothing easy is worth having. Thank you. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Are there any other speakers?



The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



[The House rose at 6:10 p.m.]